According to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA Propertymark), the upcoming tenant fee ban along with increased regulation in the private rented sector looks to have triggered a letting agent exodus from the high street.
Analysis of homes available to rent shows letting agents have more homes available to rent, even though landlords are not putting more properties on the market, says the professional body.
The explanation, suggests ARLA, is probably down to agency sell-ups and mergers ahead of the fee ban, which starts from 1 June.
The ban follows a raft of new rules hitting letting agents that include setting up client money protection and signing up with an independent complaint adjudicator.
ARLA Propertymark letting agents reported 203 homes to rent at each branch last month – up from 197 the month before, which is the highest level since records started in 2015.
“Whilst it’s positive that the number of properties available per branch hit a record high, this may be the first signs of the industry consolidating ahead of the tenant fee ban as agents either sell-up or merge. This, coupled with landlords exiting the market and rent costs continuing to rise, means the overall picture is far from positive for renters,” said ARLA Propertymark CEO David Cox.
“The full effects of the tenant fee ban have not yet been felt, and now the government is introducing yet more new legislation which will deter new landlords from entering the market, such as abolishing Section 21.
“Until we have greater clarity on the changes planned, this news will only increase pressure on the sector and discourage new landlords from investing, meaning rents will only continue to rise for tenants.”
The report also shows an increase in the number of tenants looking for homes.