“Renting isn’t a poor man’s market anymore,” says the director of a UK-wide property management company. “This is what people do as a lifestyle choice - not because they have to, but because they want to.”
Michael Scrase-Hollamby of Ezytrac Property Management says there has been a been a distinct change in attitudes towards renting in the past decade. “Eight or ten years ago, tenants were going into rental properties for about 18 months,” he says. “People are deciding to stay in rental properties for much longer now.”
He thinks that because tenants are choosing to stay in properties for longer, the information they’re asking for at viewings has also changed. “The days where you could just put people in a well-presented apartment in the heart of the city don't wash anymore,” says Scrase-Hollamby. “They want more detailed information, for example, broadband access and download speed, whether the windows are double-glazed, if there are facilities like shops, local gyms, a concierge, those sorts of things. They way they are looking at it now is that they're going to stay in these properties for longer periods.”
Longer tenancies are actually more beneficial to landlords and, in turn, their property managers, believes Scrase-Hollamby. “The more tenants you have coming in and then leaving results in more wear and tear and dilapidation of the property. But if you have just one tenant who's going to be there for a longer time, they tend to treat it better. They tend to look after it more as their own home, which reduces wear and tear,” he says. “Landlords want the standard of their property to be maintained, so their investment is looked after better if we can get the right tenant and they stay longer.”
Many agencies have traditionally relied on a high turnover of tenants because tenancy fees formed such a substantial part of their revenue, notes Scrase-Hollamby. This will no longer be a viable business model once the Tenant Fee Ban comes into effect on 1st June, which means more agencies could be aiming to secure tenants for the long term.
Scrase-Hollamby says his company achieves this by providing tenants with a high level of service. “We want everything to be seamless and effortless for them. They’re very much a valued part of our business,” he says. “We want to find the right tenants and match them with the right property and the right landlord and then provide them with a great service, so they're not hopping between one property and another - we want this to be their home.”