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UK residential property rents still slowing

The latest figures from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors show that the net balance of surveyors reporting falls rather than rises in rents fell from 48% to 55%, the lowest level since recording began in 1999.

The change has been most marked in Scotland where 80% more chartered surveyors reported a fall than a rise in rents, down from 58%. Meanwhile in London, the rental market for houses continued to favour tenants. A net 85% of surveyors reported a fall than a rise in rents for houses in London down from 71%.

Significantly, surveyors are reporting that gross property yields are now falling for the first time since April 2007, indicating that rents are declining at a more rapid pace than property prices.

Looking forward, the picture looks a little more encouraging for landlords. Rental expectations, though still negative, have improved markedly. The net balance of surveyors anticipating future rental declines rather than increases rose to 25% from 41%.

An interesting development in the latest survey is the increased willingness of landlords to consider selling their property at the expiry of a tenant lease. This has edged back up to 1.8% having fallen to just 0.2% in the three months to January.

Tenant demand for rental property continued to increase, albeit at a slower pace. A net balance of 16% more surveyors reported a rise than a fall in new tenant lettings down from 42%. The net balances of surveyors reporting new instructions to let both flats and houses (an indicator of supply) are still rising but the pace has started to slow. Some 17% and 12% more chartered surveyors reported a rise than a fall in new instructions to let flats and houses respectively, down from 44% and 49%.

'Property transactions are starting to rise from very low levels and the influx of supply in the rental market has slowed as vendors begin to find buyers. Demand for rental property is still high but tenants have been able to take advantage of a flooded market to negotiate lower deals,' explained RICS spokesperson Jeremy Leaf.

'Even so, the downward pressure on rents should ease in the coming months providing some good news for landlords,' he added.