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State Of The Renting Nation

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We live in interesting times, that’s for sure, though if you’re thinking of dipping your toes in the buy-to-let brine, they’re probably closer to downright riveting.

As life recalibrates to take in the new normal with Covid a growth in rental demand could be an emerging trend.

Sadly, as furlough ends there will be winners – and losers. If you don’t have a job to go back to your mortgage payments could well prove prohibitive so renting becomes a viable option and this may include needing help with rent.

The most recent ‘state of the nation’ survey into the lettings market, carried out just before the pandemic struck, showed the importance of the private sector both to tenants meeting the rent from earnings and those relying on Housing Benefit – which is set to become the housing cost element of the new Universal Credit (UC) currently rolling out.

This survey from the NI Housing Executive showed that 40% of respondents were currently letting to tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit, while around one sixth were letting to UC tenants.

The results reaffirm the critical role benefits play in sustaining the private rented sector - and critically also highlights the importance of monitoring the ongoing changes to the welfare system, especially in a spot-Covid setting.

Around half of respondents were willing to let, or continue letting, to Housing Benefit UC claimants during the next five years, though a sizeable minority were unsure or simply unwilling given UC mightn’t provide the same certainty of regular full payment.

And getting the rent in is vital for a third of landlords, according to the survey, who said they relied on it to make mortgage payments on the rental property.

For this reason security of tenure can be as vital for landlords as private sector tenants, probably why 66% of respondents said they would be happy offering or continuing to offer tenancies over 12 months in the future.

And when it comes to actually looking after the tenancy, the survey showed that about a third of landlords use a lettings agent, probably because over three-quarters here own just one or two properties with a healthy proportion of those having ‘accidentally’ entered the property game by inheriting a house, for example.

Interestingly only about 3% of landlords had become landlords in the year before the pandemic struck so it will be interesting to see how that changes.

The result is that almost three out of four respondents to the survey then had been a landlord for five years or more.

Released at the end of last year this survey was then deemed vital for forward planning in the sector given what it described as the ‘greater uncertainty than at any time in recent memory’. And that was before Covid.

Notwithstanding,  as an important alternative to social housing – a role which could well increase – this information on the current state of the sector is crucial if stakeholders are to adequately plan for the demands within the private rented sector going forward.

Are you looking to rent? get in touch with one of our estate agents, who would be happy to provide you with more information at

About Rea Estates:

At Rea Estates, we provide award-winning services to a wide range of clients and we are highly specialised in all aspects of sales, lettings and management.

We sell, let, and manage property across the greater Belfast area and North Down. We also provide comprehensive property investment services, including property sourcing and property procurement, refurbishment and project management, and tenant sourcing and tenancy management. Our property services are entirely bespoke based entirely on the requirements of the client.

News Story written and provided by Mandi Millar