Lucy Hansford, lettings manager with Spencer & Leigh, looks at ARLA’s latest report on the market.

As members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, Spencer & Leigh are asked to contribute their views and experiences to the Monthly ARLA report, which gives a nationwide view of the private rented sector, providing accurate information on areas such as the demand for properties and average rents received, to people’s views on proposed changes to the sector.

The report, published last week, shows that the lettings market continues to remain strong in the South East. Agents in our area reported the highest numbers of new applicants registering for rental properties in March 2015, therefore it is unsurprising that rent reductions were least likely in the South East and 40% of landlords subsequently recorded rent increases over the past month.

With this in mind the team of letting professionals at Spencer & Leigh have this month achieved some record rents; we are finding that well presented properties which come to the market are quickly being agreed to quality applicants within a handful of viewings.

The other focus of the report was the looming election. The private rented sector has become a hot topic in pre-election debates with the Labour party most notably proposing changes, including the abolition of tenancy fees in their entirety, a change to three year fixed term tenancies and caps on rent increases. According to the report a staggering three quarters of those polled thought that Labour’s proposals would deplete the housing stock and would not benefit tenants.

As responsible agents Spencer & Leigh agree that regulation is required within the sector and that there should be a limit to the fees agents can charge tenants. However there is concern that there is a potential for a decrease in available properties to let and potentially a rise in monthly rent as these fees are rebranded under a different heading, probably charged to the Landlord initially. If rents are capped, and Landlord fees increase to counter the abolition of tenant’s fees we may well see a decrease in the quality of homes in the private rented sector, with Landlords unable to maintain properties to the high standards we currently see.

To read the full report go to;