Countrywide plc Monthly Lettings Index - March 2016

Countrywide PLC

Monday, April 11, 2016

Countrywide plc Monthly Lettings Index – March 2016

3% stamp duty deadline floods rental market

Landlords letting out new purchases suppresses rental price growth

The Countrywide monthly Lettings Index for March reveals the first signs of the impact of changing landlord behaviour in response to the Government’s introduction of the new 3% stamp duty surcharge.

Many investors brought forward purchases to beat the introduction of the new surcharge applied to all those who own more than one home, which came into effect on the 1st of April.  Countrywide’s whole market estimates show £28 billion worth of home sales were completed in March ahead of the deadline, a 76% increase on the previous year.  Landlords accounted for 23% homes sold in March compared to 13% in the previous year. In the two weeks running up the deadline, half of all homes sold were to landlords.

This surge in landlord activity means more housing has been made available for tenants to rent.  22% more homes were brought to the rental market in Q1 of 2016 than in Q1 2015 and has contributed to lower rental growth rates compared to last year.  The percentage increase in the number of homes to rent has not been matched by the increase in the number of prospective tenants looking for a home which has put further downward pressure on rents. The number of tenants registering was up 16% in the first three months of 2016, compared to the same time last year.

London experienced the largest increase in new rented homes, up 40% on Q1 2015, but lower growth of tenant numbers, up only 8% over the same period.  This has resulted in a rapid deceleration in rental price growth with rents in Greater London growing 2.9% in March, less than half the 7.4% recorded in 2015. 

The average UK rent rose 3.4% in the year to March 2016, two thirds of the rate in March 2015.  Rents grew fastest in the East of England, increasing by 8.5% over the year.  Growth in the East of England was driven by increasing numbers of new tenants registering in the first three months of the year, up 34% year on year, the highest increase of any region.

Commenting, Johnny Morris, Research Director at Countrywide, said:

“Quite at odds with the intentions of the policy, the first measurable effect of the introduction of the new stamp duty rate has been to increase the number of homes owned by landlords, although this will likely be a temporary affect as we see reduced investor activity in future months.

“The increase in supply of homes to rent from landlords bringing forward purchases seems to have taken the edge off rental growth.  A similar increase in tenants looking for a home to rent though would indicate this may not persist.  The large number of sharers, and people living with parents means there is a big store of pent up demand in the rental market.

Table 1 – New Lets

Table 2 – Renewed Contracts

Table 3 – All Occupied Units


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