Renting is fast becoming a new way of life in Britain – despite lower interest rates and better mortgage deals becoming available for prospective new home buyers.

In his latest review of the private rental sector, Paul Rice, Director of Belvoir Liverpool City Centre, says: “Whilst there has been a gradual shift towards renting over the past 30 years, our current assessment of the housing market indicates that it’s not just about financial factors – it seems that more and more people are still being drawn towards the rental option and the benefits of NOT owning a property.

“Property prices continue to be pushed up by a lack of supply. There are not enough houses being built and, as a result, house prices are now the highest they have been for nearly three years – and rising at the fastest rate at any time within that period.”

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of 25-34 year olds who own their own homes has fallen from 2 million to 1.3 million within the last decade. Out of 23.4 million homes, 15 million (64 per cent) are owner occupied, with 8.3 million (36 per cent) now rented.[1]

Paul Rice continues- “There is still strong demand for rentals amongst young professionals and couples struggling to get on the housing ladder and many of them are renting right up to their early 30’s, which is now the average age of first time buyers.” Within this growing trend of ‘Generation Rent’, new tenants of privately rented properties are demanding ever-improving standards from their living accommodation.

“Today’s tenants have a different life and set of expectations to those in the last century,“ adds Paul.

“Although often criticised, housing stock in the rental sector has improved dramatically – particularly since the ‘credit crunch’ of 2008 when Belvoir first started to analyse the ups and down of the UK rental market.

“Substantial investment in ‘new build’ city centre apartments during the height of the property market, plus the continuing rise of ‘accidental landlords’ who have turned

to renting out their own homes are just two of the factors that have led to a wide range of good quality, well maintained properties being on offer to prospective tenants.”

Looking forward at buy to let over the remainder of 2013, Paul Rice adds “It is possible that, for the first time in 5 years, investors may now start to see long term capital gains in their properties – as well as achieving healthy yields – on the right kind of properties, in the right locations.

“In some areas a gross yield of between 8 and 10 per cent can be achieved but, of course, there are costs to be taken into account. An experienced lettings agent such as Belvoir can provide expert advice on how to get maximum value from a property.”

Belvoir also advises any prospective investor to consider the on-going cost of planned work to ensure that properties are maintained in ’tip top’ condition to keep them attractive and desirable to prospective tenants.

Expenses to consider are:

Painting, decorating and new floor covering every few years
Kitchens, bathrooms and lighting updated every five years
Budget for new boiler/heating every 10 years
Review new roof, guttering, fascias, windows and doors every 15-20 years
Renewed damp course every 25 years
“Older properties are also likely to need re-wiring during the life of a buy to let investment,“ adds Paul.

“Other things that will need updating include locks, appliances and aerials – in addition to the compulsory regular safety checks of fire alarms, gas appliances, etc.

“As a general guide, landlords are likely to need to invest annually up to one per cent of the property’s value, to maintain it to a high standard.

“Our research suggests that by doing this, they will meet the ever growing expectations of a discerning tenant market.
[1] *Figures apply to England and Wales only and are quoted from the Office of National Statistics 2011 Census Report – published 28 June 2013