Extreme leasing: London’s bidding war intensifies as increasing rates struck buy-to-let

When Alexandra Rodriguez asked her property owner to fix the smoke alarm in her leased flat in south London, she did not anticipate his action to be an expulsion notification. Yet he sent her an official demand to leave the flat within 2 months — then re-advertised it at a lease almost 40 percent greater.

“They advertised the property on Rightmove at £1,800 per month . . . that’s why they got rid of us,” stated the 37-year-old science service technician, including that she was still “emotionally and financially” recuperating from being pressed out of her house.

Her experience echoes that of numerous Londoners who are being struck with rising leas and even kicked out as property managers hand down pressure from greater rates of interest. The personal leased sector — on which the UK capital has actually ended up being significantly dependent over the previous twenty years — is especially susceptible to greater rates since of the occurrence of interest-only buy-to-let home mortgages, which assisted develop legions of middle-class property managers.

Rents in London are at their greatest level on record, far above those in the remainder of the UK and greater than in numerous European capitals. London leas increased by a 5th in between March 2020 and May 2023, with the mean expense of a studio in Greater London reaching £1,275 each month, according to home representatives Savills.

You are seeing a photo of an interactive graphic. This is probably due to being offline or JavaScript being handicapped in your internet browser.

A boom in need for occupancies is being sustained by record migration to the UK and a wave of trainees pressed into personal leasings by a lack of trainee lodging, state professionals.

Higher home mortgage rates and completion of a federal government plan supporting newbie purchasers have actually on the other hand required more potential property buyers into lettings, stated Richard Donnell, head of research study at Zoopla.

“The affordability of home ownership in London, where you need to be on a £100,000 income and [have] a £140,000 deposit to buy, means a lot of people are having to rent,” stated Donnell. UK home sales are on track for their slowest year in more than a years, according to Zoopla.

Soaring need implies occupants are contending increasingly for houses. Neil Short, head of London lettings at estate representative JLL, stated they were going into bidding wars and providing to pay several months’ worth of lease upfront.

“I’ve been doing lettings for the best part of 20 years and only recently have I seen an instance where we’ve had to take a property off the market because within half an hour we generated viewings of 20 people,” stated Short. “We were inundated with inquiries. We had to physically stop [them].”

Alexandra Rodriguez in her kitchen
Alexandra Rodriguez was kicked out from a south London flat after asking for a repair work — then saw it re-advertised at a greater lease

Adding to the pressure, the stock of readily available houses to lease in London — currently inadequate to satisfy need — is at danger of diminishing after simply beginning to recuperate from a five-year low in 2022. About 4.8mn personal property managers offer lodging for a fifth of UK homes, stated Savills. Of those, more than 1mn remain in Greater London, where they accommodate about 30 percent of homes.

Britain’s personal leased sector grew in the 2000s after the rollout of buy-to-let home mortgages. London’s high dependence on interest-only loans has actually made it susceptible to increasing loaning expenses, which are putting property managers’ company designs under pressure.

The typical two-year buy-to-let domestic home mortgage rate in the UK increased from 4.5 percent in August 2022 to 6.6 percent at the end of August 2023, according to Moneyfacts. That has actually injured property managers within and outside London. Neil France, an Essex-based property owner with 4 buy-to-let residential or commercial properties, stated the increases in month-to-month payments had actually been “horrific” and required him to increase leas to prevent making a loss. “We have had to go out to all the families, sit down with all the tenants [and] explain to them the situation,” he stated.

The struck to debtors follows regulative modifications that had actually currently dimmed the appeal of personal rental financial investments. The UK federal government ditched tax relief on buy-to-let home mortgage interest in 2016, while property managers deal with the possibility of brand-new energy effectiveness requirements in the coming years, together with harder guideline of the rental market.

“The impact of [the 2016 tax change] is really starting to be felt today, when you’ve got rates of 6 to 7 per cent that can’t be offset as an expense,” stated David Fell, expert at estate representative Hamptons.

Lenders repossessed 440 buy-to-let residential or commercial properties in the UK in the 2nd quarter of 2023, up 7 percent from the previous quarter, while an additional 1,870 property managers lagged on payments by an amount amounting to more than 10 percent of their exceptional loan, according to UK Finance.

“I cannot believe anybody would go into buy-to-let now,” stated France. “I would question their sanity.”

You are seeing a photo of an interactive graphic. This is probably due to being offline or JavaScript being handicapped in your internet browser.


Outstanding buy-to-let home mortgages have actually fallen this year as property managers settle their financial obligation or offer residential or commercial properties to prevent the blow from greater rates. In London, high home mortgage expenses make the returns on such residential or commercial properties lower than in other places. “Unfortunately, we are going to see a lot of old landlords selling up,” stated Donnell.

Hamptons approximates that in between one-third and half of houses offered by property managers stay in the personal leased market. A sell-off for that reason runs the risk of additional squeezing supply, professionals caution. That would stack pressure on to London’s most susceptible occupants, a lot of whom count on personal leasings since they cannot access social real estate.

About a quarter of UK occupants in the personal rental sector get federal government real estate advantage, according to analysis of federal government information by Zoopla and the homelessness charity Crisis — the figure in London is 29 percent.

“We haven’t built enough social housing over the last 20 years, so the private sector growth has absorbed unmet demand,” stated Zoopla’s Donnell. “As soon as the rental market stops growing, it highlights a whole lot of problems.”

You are seeing a photo of an interactive graphic. This is probably due to being offline or JavaScript being handicapped in your internet browser.


Within London, the percentage of homes in social real estate — houses offered by councils and not-for-profit real estate associations at leas connected to earnings — differs commonly by district, from less than 10 percent in Redbridge to practically 40 percent in Barking and Dagenham.

Local real estate allowances have actually not stayed up to date with increasing leas, so individuals on advantages cannot complete in the personal rental market, stated project group Generation Rent.

They likewise run the risk of needing to discover brand-new houses since property managers in England can kick out occupants with 2 months’ caution without description from as low as 6 months into their occupancy.

Such expulsions will be limited under an occupant’s reform expense that is going through parliament however the harder guidelines have actually made sluggish development given that they were promised in 2019. Generation Rent stated loose guideline made low-income households particularly susceptible.

Rents are increasing throughout London however are growing fastest on the city’s borders in districts such as Harrow, Sutton and Havering. “The big story in London is renters being pushed into outer London in search of affordability,” stated Donnell.

You are seeing a photo of an interactive graphic. This is probably due to being offline or JavaScript being handicapped in your internet browser.


Hair stylist Solomon, 29, invested weeks desperately searching for a space after his property owner provided him observe to leave his Camberwell flat. After consistently being outbid, he chose to cut his losses and relocate to Basingstoke in Hampshire.

“I can either spend lots of money to be in London — in a place I won’t be comfortable in with damp and mould that affects my mental health — or I take the plunge and move out of London and deal with commuting,” he stated.

Solomon, whose commute to Peckham in south London now takes more than an hour, stated leaving the capital was the only method he might live alone in a clean, operating flat.

“My work and career is in London, all my friends are there, but the things I need at my stage in life are home and security,” he stated. “London wasn’t able to provide that for me any more.”

Data visualisation by Chris Campbell and Martin Stabe

Extreme leasing

1693887466 91 Extreme renting Londons bidding war escalates as rising rates hit

This is the most recent part of a series on Europe’s rental crisis:


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

Related Articles

Back to top button