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The reign of the renter

This month analysis by the Office for National Statistics revealed that the average home in England and Wales cost a record 8.8 times the typical local salary in 2014, and prices in some areas have reached a staggering 20 times local income. 

As prices rise the age of first-time home buyers has correspondingly increased, and in many cases people are considering being lifetime renters as they cannot afford to buy. 

This so-called ‘reign of the renter’ has prompted a new attitude between landlord and tenant relationships encouraging an experience that is gratifying for both parties. 

As the market for property rental across the UK rises, the experience of letting a home is being tailored into a similar transaction as buying a property. 

Short-term lets are frequently regarded as a gateway into longer term arrangements and as a result are being refined into an increasingly selective process for both landlords and tenants. 

Letting a property gives a person a chance to gauge if a certain area is right for them; contracts under three months are the perfect opportunity to get a sense of the surrounding environment, whereas longer term arrangements give residents a chance to become a part of the community. 

Regardless of duration, thorough background research on potential neighbourhoods is critical. A sense of the areas demographic i.e., young urban professionals, families, students and so on will provide an idea of the environment’s atmosphere. 

Additionally, an understanding of the current neighbours in the area is important to maintain a positive community feel. Paralleled ideas on noise levels, building upkeep etc. can easily make or break one’s experience in their new rental home. 

The same checks can be applied to choosing the perfect tenant. The obvious credit check and references are the first step, however, proper communication between landlord and tenant on expectations of the arrangement can often be overlooked. 

We would often suggest that a landlord meets their tenants before they move in to ensure that they fully understand each other’s expectations. Ideally, as the landlord you would want the tenancy to last for as long as possible and the option of extending to a long-term contract, rather than having to re-let the property would always be preferable. As more and more people turn to renting in the long term we are seeing increased lengths of contracts throughout most levels of the market.

*John Fisher is Head of Lettings at Sotheby’s International Realty 

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