Houses let quicker than flats as renters look for space

Houses are now being let faster than flats as Covid-19 restrictions drive renters to search for more space.

All types of rental property outside London are being let at a far quicker pace than a year ago, with the time between listing and a let agreed dropping.

But houses are, on average, being let faster than flats, our latest Rental Market Report reveals.

It typically took 16 days to let a house between May and September this year, four days less than it did during the same five months in 2019.

And it took an average 18 days to let a flat over the same time period this year – again, down from 20 days last year.

Where are the hottest rental markets for houses?

Drilling down into this year’s UK rental market data, houses were let the quickest in south west England, where the average time between listing and a let agreed was 14 days. 

It was followed by Wales, East Midlands, eastern England and Scotland, where the figure stood at 15 days for every region.

It took an average 17 days to let a house in the West Midlands, north east and north west, 18 days in the south east, and 20 days in London.

The greatest difference in the time taken to let a flat and a house between May and September this year was in Wales. The time between listing and a let agreed for a flat was 21 days, compared with just 15 days for a house.

West Midlands followed closely behind, where it took 22 days to let a flat, five days more than a house.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the north west, both flats and houses were let in 17 days.

What’s driving the trend?

The fact that the rental market outside London is moving faster than a year ago reflects the surge in renter appetite since the first lockdowns were lifted across the UK.

However, Covid-19 has also led many people to carry out a once-in-a-lifetime re-evaluation of their home, with changing working and commuting patterns driving many renters – as well as buyers – to search for more space. 

This is likely to have fuelled renter demand in particular for houses, which typically offer more space inside and out.

There’s also significant regional variation, and in some local rental markets, the popularity of houses reflects the dominant type of rental property available.

For the wider impact of coronavirus on the property market, check out the latest from our Research and Insights team