During the day - back to the office. Evenings - city living returns. June's easing of restrictions has released the pent up demand, causing a rush to rent city centre apartments. Who would ever have doubted it?
Comparing August 2020 and August 2021, there has been a 55% increase in the number of tenants looking for a new London home. Over the same period, the number of rental properties becoming available dropped by a staggering 58%. Combine those two and landlords are firmly back in the driving seat.
Richard Davies, head of lettings at Chestertons said "With demand outstripping supply, rents are now starting to increase and – if limited availability of rental properties continues – it won’t be long before rents return to 2019 levels."
Many of those heading to the cities are returnees who hunkered down with family and friends during the crisis. However, that is not the full story. According to Knight Frank. 24% of all August web searches for UK property were from overseas. Although travel restrictions continue to hold back tourist numbers, interest from overseas investors and students has returned, impacting both sale and rental prices.
Staying with Knight Frank for the moment, their central London lettings division has reported August as having had its highest monthly number of enquiries for five years. Second highest? July. Third? Yes, June.
London may be the most obvious example, but similar reports are coming from letting agents in the major regional cities.
Central Manchester has also seen a surge in rental demand and a collapse in supply. At the start of August, just 700 apartments were available in a city centre with a population of 70,000.
The headline figure shows that rentals in the city grew by 4.4% in the last 12 months. Look a little more closely and you will find that almost all of that came between May and August.
"If we can't rent a three bedrrom apartment in 24 hours, we're doing something wrong" said Adam Higgins, co-founder of large local property group Capital&Centric.
He went on to say "We’re renting our homes twice as quickly as we’d projected, even before the pandemic. I think there’s huge pent-up demand as people are desperate to get back to pre-Covid normality."
Yes, the city centres are back.