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Tenants more worried about affordability and evictions

Tenants are increasingly looking into affordability, their rights and eviction notices, reflecting how the market has been challenging for renters in the past six months.

The research comes from Zero Deposit, the tenancy deposit alternative, which analysed Google search term trends around renting to reveal which topics have seen the largest increase in interest from tenants.

The interest score represents interest relative to maximum search popularity. It does not refer to the overall number of searches, but rather a term’s popularity. A score of 100 indicates maximum popularity.

Sam Reynolds, chief executive of Zero Deposit, said: “Rental market affordability remains the biggest concern for the nation’s tenants and this is evident given the huge increase in search interest seen over the last six months alone.

“However, there has also been a notable uplift in interest around tenant rights and evictions. This isn’t unsurprising given the generally low level of understanding of both topics alongside new additions to the Renters Reform Bill, including the proposed abolition of Section 21 evictions.

“Deposits and deposit protection have also seen an increase in interest, which further demonstrates how the financial cost of renting plays a major role in the decision making process of the nation’s renters.

“Interestingly far fewer are currently interested in finding a property, indicating that most tenants want to stay put rather than leave. Rents have increased by 9.56% in the last 12 months, so for many, the cost to move is simply prohibitive. This also explains why they want to know where they stand with respect to their current rights.”

Rising searches

More tenants are worried about the cost of renting compared to six months ago. Search popularity for the term ‘rental affordability’ rose by 81.2% between April 2023 and August 2023, the largest increase of all search terms.

Tenant legal rights was another area that attracted more searches, with the interest score rising by 45.2% over the last six months.

Meanwhile, searches for the term eviction notice climbed by 13.2%, followed by the rental deposit (+10.9%) and deposit protection (+8.8%).

Searches for the terms tenancy agreement and rent arrears also saw an increase in popularity over the last six months at 5.8% and 1.9% respectively.

It’s likely that the increase in these search terms is being driven by the noise around the proposed abolition of Section 21 evictions. While there has been a great deal of media attention on this particular subject, it’s still on its journey through parliament as part of the wider Renters Reform Bill and won’t come into force until this bill becomes an Act.

Falling interest

Interestingly fewer tenants are searching for rental properties, as the interest score fell by -52.5% when compared to six months ago.

This suggests that many are looking to avoid the increased costs associated with securing a new rental property, with the latest figures from HomeLet showing that the average UK rent is now £1,283, having increased by 9.56% in the last year alone.

There were also fewer searches about rental property conditions (-51.1%) and rent increases or rising rents (-14.4%).