Do tenants want to rent ‘bills-inclusive’ properties?

The cost of living crisis may be changing tenants’ preferences to such a degree that bills-inclusive properties are becoming increasingly popular.

That’s the suggestion of Rightmove, which says it’s seen changing behaviours of tenants against the backdrop of record rents and increasing household bills.

The portal has surveyed almost 1,300 landlords and found that the most common length of tenancy is over two years, with 18 per cent of landlords saying their average length of tenancy has increased over the past year. 

Only five per cent of landlords have seen the average tenancy length decrease.

The latest data from Rightmove’s Quarterly Rental Tracker shows that national asking rents outside London are rising at the fastest rate ever recorded, now standing at £1,088 per calendar month, up 11 per cent on this time last year. 

It is a similar story in the capital where rents are up over 14 per cent to over £2,000 for the first time – £2,195 pcm to be exact.

There are also more than triple the number of tenants enquiring as there are rental properties available, making it the most competitive-ever rental market. 

The portal says this lack of available stock is a combination of more tenants staying put in longer tenancies, coupled with high demand from people who didn’t move during the pandemic, or who moved in with friends or family temporarily.

Many landlords have recognised the challenges of rising household bills for tenants, with around two thirds choosing not to put up rents over the past year, while a third have increased rents. 

Some agents in bigger cities report that tenants who were able to move into a property for much lower than the average rent for an area during the pandemic have seen rents increase back up to market value again now that demand has increased.

And analysis of features in over 20,000 listings on Rightmove – including Build To Rent properties – has revealed a significant increase in demand for properties with all bills included. 

Over the past year enquiries from tenants have jumped by 36 per cent for this type of property, the biggest increase out of all available features. Homes with balconies, communal gardens, properties allowing pets and those offering zero deposits all came equal second, with enquiries jumping by 22 per cent.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, comments: “A shortage of rental homes and strong demand for those available has led to a greater number of tenants choosing to renew leases and stay put, rather than re-enter a competitive rental market. 

“People who had been waiting to see what happened last year are now being faced with record rents and so are seeking out properties where they can have more certainty over their outgoings, with all bills included becoming increasingly sought after.

“Landlords may have been tempted to put their rents up given the high demand from new tenants, but many understand the affordability challenges of rising rents and bills, as our study shows that the majority are charging their tenants the same as a year ago. 

“Many landlords build up a relationship with their tenants over a number of years, and they will want to keep a good tenant for longer if they can rather than cash in on a rent rise in the short term.”

Written by: Houseladder