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The rental property market has boomed in recent years as more people find themselves unable to get on the property ladder.
According to the government's 2016-17 English Housing Survey, 37% of England's 23.1m households are in the private rental sector.
The private rental sector accounts for 4.7m (20%) of all households, while the social rental sector accounts for 3.9m (18%). In London private renting is now the most common form of tenure.
Those aged under 35 have always been the largest group in the private rental sector but over the last decade this age group's prevalence has been particularly pronounced. In 2006/7, 27% of 25 to 34 year-olds lived in private rented homes but by 2016/17 this had increased to 46%.
Over the same period the proportion of 25 to 34 year-old owner-occupiers has fallen from 57% to 37%. This means that young adults are now more likely to be renting privately than buying their own home.
In 2018 there were an average of 70 prospective renters registered with each letting agency branch, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) For landlords the financial rewards can be great. The average monthly rent is around £900 a month. According to the estate agency Savills £54bn worth of rent is paid to private landlords in the UK each year.
A further indication of the scale of the UK property market has come from mortgage lenders' trade body UK Finance. In December 2017 gross buy-to-let lending for house purchases totalled £900m.
With such a strong demand for rental property among tenants comes a significant reduction in risk for landlords. While the average home for sale is on the market for 200 days, the average (mean) time a property for rent is on the market is 38 days. The typical (median) time a rental property is on the market is just 20 days.
It is worth noting that some letting agents keep rental properties advertised even after they are let, which can prove frustrating for tenants. The average time a rental property is advertised as being on the market is 69 days, which is 31 days longer than the average (mean) time a property is actually available for rent. The growth in the rental property sector has also seen an increase in the number of rental price indices.
Some, for example LSL's Buy to Let Index, are aimed at the UK's 1.75m landlords as well as other property professionals, such as the UK's 13,000 lettings offices. Others provide useful consumer focused and regional rental price data about homes to rent. Meanwhile, the Move with Us Rental Index provides rental price information for both renters and landlords.
A word of caution is advised when looking at average rental property price figures of homes to rent. While some use asking prices, others base their average monthly rent figures on agreed rents, which can be around £100-£150 lower than the average national asking price. Who is taking advantage of this rental property sector boom? Small landlords dominate the private rental market, with 62% of all landlords owning just one rented property.
There are also a number of large social housing associations in the rental sector. The largest of these is Clarion Housing Association, which manages 125,000 homes in around 170 council areas.
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