Business as usual not a good thing, says Arla

Business as usual not a good thing, says Arla (iStock/Nicola Ferrari)

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has described the latest data on the private residential sector as business as usual - but said this "isn't necessarily a good thing". 

Its Private Rented Sector Report revealed that in March, the number of tenants experiencing rent hikes was 23 per cent, the highest tally since September last year (27 per cent). However, this was less than March 2017's 25 per cent and the 32 per cent seen in March 2015 and 2016.

Overall, however, the report noted that the ongoing trend is for supply and demand to both rise, but the former to struggle to keep pace with the latter. 

For instance, in March the average letting agency had 179 properties on its books, marginally up on the February figure of 175. However, the typical agency saw the number of prospective tenants increase by eight per cent from 61 to 66.  

Describing this as a continuation of the status quo in the sector, Arla chief executive David Cox said: "Supply is still too low and almost a quarter of tenants are experiencing rent hikes every month as landlords try to recoup the costs lost trying to keep on top of all the recent legislative changes, including the recent energy efficiency deadline."

The key problem, he suggested, was that over the past two decades the ability of landlords to increase the supply of property to tenants has been restricted by a wide range of legislation. The main flaw with that was that while good landlords faced higher costs, bad ones were continuing to defy the system without consequence, due to slack enforcement of the rules. 

For this reason, he added, Arla is "supportive" of the government's plans to crack down on agents and landlords who do not play by the rules. This will include giving councils the right to seize properties from bad landlords. 

Mr Cox argued that this was the best way to tackle the sector's "root problems".