Agents and landlords ‘should prepare for post-lockdown surge’

Landlords and letting agents are being urged to prepare themselves for a huge surge in demand once lockdown restrictions are eased.

The sector has been on pause since prime minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown on March 23 that effectively banned in-person house viewings and house moves.

But while social distancing rules have all but put a stop to new tenancies, the desire and need for rental properties has not gone away in the six weeks since the UK went into lockdown.

David Cox ARLA PropertyMark CEO predicted the “massive amount of pent-up demand in the market” would lead to a surge in movement as soon as the government announced an easing of restrictions.

“The first Friday out of lockdown is probably going to be one of the biggest moving days in the lettings industry’s history,” he said.

Cox advised agents to spend this relatively quiet time planning a post-lockdown strategy and assessing how they can respond to what is predicted to be a big uptick in tenancy applications.

He also warned letting agents and landlords against becoming complacent over industry regulations in light of the nationwide emergency.

While the coronavirus crisis has meant legislative changes have been temporarily suspended, once the emergency eases, “the government is going to go back to its normal course of business”, Cox warned.

In fact, Cox predicted the pandemic would “change the market quite significantly” and led to even tougher regulations in the private rental sector.

Agents and landlords should be prepared for the abolition of Section 21, the roll out of Electrical Safety Regulations on new tenancies from 1 July as well as the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA), he said, but they must also be looking further ahead in order to stay one step ahead of prospective legislative changes.

“[Post-crisis] I think they’re going to be looking at more regulation of landlords. I think we will go into a much tougher regime on property standards. We are trying to get out ahead of that with the concept of a property MOT; if we can try and shape what comes next, it’s going to be much easier for the industry to accept than to have a whole collection of laws thrown at us like we have over the past 10 years. Let’s get out in front of it, so we’re on the front foot,” he said

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4th May 2020