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By Jonathan Stein

Founder, Vaboo

OTHER FEATURES

Do you know what tenants want in 2021?

As we now find ourselves in the UK’s third national lockdown in 10 months, what tenants want, and need from their properties, is inevitably changing.

Many people will be feeling the effects for a long time to come. How agents respond to this new sensibility will ultimately determine the success they will see in 2021.

What trends will letting agents see in 2021?

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Vaboo’s monthly tenant survey has revealed that both price and size remain at the top of the list of key motivators for choosing a property, but proximity to the workplace (as many office workers now work at home) is continuing to lose its normal appeal. Nightlife also took a serious dip in the ratings.

Having good internet access at home has become so important that it is now described by many as the 'fourth utility'.

Whether landlords are providing the internet as part of the rent, or tenants are responsible for sorting their own connections, helping tenants find the best deals and money saving options will be crucial for those agents wanting to take key needs seriously.

Animal attraction

There are a lot of things that people might put off while renting. However, a proposed new tenancy agreement over renting a property with pets, means owning a dog or cat is one thing they may no longer have to put off until they buy.

Renting a property with pets is notoriously tricky. Currently, only 7% of landlords will advertise a property as suitable for pets.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has called on landlords to make it easier for tenants renting a property with well-behaved pets. The good news for would-be pet lovers came as he announced an overhaul of the model tenancy contracts.

Our survey of tenant users saw 55% say that if they were allowed a pet they would definitely have one, and a further 18% said that they might.

“Pets bring a huge amount of joy and comfort to people’s lives, helping their owner’s through difficult times and improving their mental and physical wellbeing,” said Jenrick.

“So, it’s a shame that thousands of animal-loving tenants and their children can’t experience this because they rent their homes instead of owning property.”

Location, location, location

The pandemic has changed not only what renters look for in a property, but also in the surrounding areas they live in.

People are now prioritising homes with gardens or balconies, and those in rural locations over those that are in cities or close to good transport links.

Lockdown is also changing how they view properties with more online viewings than ever before. Our data has revealed that over 70% of potential tenants now prefer to view a property unfurnished.

Vaboo’s survey also uncovered what a nationwide sample of around 800 tenants valued in their local area when choosing a property.

A huge 71% told us that feeling safe and secure was there top priority, with 50% of tenants wanting peace and quiet. High on the wish list was a clean environment, open spaces and sense of community. Only 20% of respondents added things to do as important in the area, and less than 15% valued local places to eat.

Opportunity knocks

The stamp duty holiday hasn’t only led to a boom in people buying a home to live in, it has also sparked an increase in investors purchasing buy-to-let properties.

This is good news for renters as it reverses the previous trend that has seen landlords stop expanding their portfolios and even exit the sector altogether in the face of a raft of tax hikes and regulatory changes.

The situation had created a mismatch between supply and demand, leaving tenants with little choice and pushing rents higher. But with more landlords now purchasing new properties, and the fast-emerging Build to Rent sector, renters should have more choice in the year ahead.

But it also gives opportunity for tenants to make their needs heard - both loudly and increasingly more insistently.

Prepared, insight-driven and forward thinking agencies will be ready and waiting to meet these needs head on, and stand out with a responsive approach to lettings.

*Jonathan Stein is founder of Vaboo

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