6 Ways Brexit Could Affect London's Rental Market

By BethPH Last edited 75 months ago
6 Ways Brexit Could Affect London's Rental Market
Photo by psyxjaw in the Londonist Flickr pool

On Friday 24 June, we plunged the country into a political maelstrom, watched agog by the rest of the world, who questioned our sanity. Since then, everyone wants to know how Brexit will affect everything from house prices to straight bananas.

Of course, no-one knows. It's basically speculation which comes with a #Brexit tag. But given that Brexit has temporarily displaced the capital's other favourite topic — the state of the rental market — we thought we'd round up some of the pre- and post-Brexit debate on what could happen.

1. More overseas investment

With the value of the pound hitting a 30-year low in the wake of the Leave vote, it means overseas buyers will get more for their money. Jonathan Hudson, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) told the Evening Standard’s Homes & Property magazine:

Ideally, I would like to see London property bought by Londoners. However, this exit vote could reignite interest from overseas buyers from Asia, who would see greater value back in the London market if the pound continues to weaken.

But if the overseas buyers scooping up cheaper London property are buying to leave rather than buying to let, that doesn't help the capital's besieged renters much.

2. Less overseas investment

Except Singapore's third biggest lender, United Overseas Bank, has suspended lending on London properties. Will other far-east banks follow suit?

3. Falling demand, but higher prices

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), says that there will be fewer prospective tenants, but rental prices will stay the same.

Almost half of agents expect the number of prospective tenants per property to fall as international demand weakens. Just over a quarter of agents expect Brexit will cause upward pressure on rental costs.

But wait a second.

Photo by Peter H in the Londonist Flickr pool

4. Falling demand, but lower or stable prices

An ARLA report on potential impact of Brexit published in May, speculated that rental prices would, in fact, fall if migration from non-UK EU countries goes down. David Cox, managing director at ARLA said that rent costs would face downward pressure.

So we asked ARLA and NAEA for their comments on Brexit and got this statement from David Cox and NAEA managing director Mark Hayward:

The outcome of the EU referendum will create a period of uncertainty among homeowners, buyers, investors, landlords and developers. We can expect international investors to look a lot harder at the UK as a market; this will have a consequential impact upon the house building sector as investment may be stalled.

In the short term we believe that both prices, and rents, will remain stable, but we cannot be certain about the next quarter as political instability, and market unrest, could lead through into prices in the housing market. We believe that the UK housing market is resilient, as is the supply chain that drives it.

5. Don't leave us this way

London mayor Sadiq Khan doesn't want them to go. They don't want to go. We don't want them to go.

We're not just talking about the non-UK EU nationals, we're talking about everyone who has made London their home. And that includes the international companies, some of whom are having a bit of a wobble about staying here.

London's population has been steadily growing, driving the relentless demand for housing in the private rental sector. With recently-announced changes to tax breaks for buy-to-let landlords, some are said to be reconsidering their investments. If Brexit prompts an exodus of people and businesses, what will happen then? We asked CityMetric editor Jonn Elledge:

If landlords panic about paying their BTL mortgages they may put rents up — the question is whether the market will bear it. With the economy crashing, multinationals threatening to leave London, and so forth, the city's population boom may be about to come to a sudden end in which case all bets are off.

6. Fewer houses

The country's housebuilding firms took a hammering in the post-Brexit market freefall.

Of course, this would be the ideal time to build more bloody houses, but it's unlikely to work out that way because a fall in house prices means builders will just build fewer houses. London's chronic housing shortage could be about to get even worse, depending on any combination of 1-4 above and some other factors which no-one has realised yet.

So now you know as much as we do. Which isn't that much, really.

Last Updated 30 June 2016