Why is there a shortage of good quality property to rent in Dunstable and Houghton Regis at the moment ?

Tenants don’t believe us when they come into our shop and ask for any 1 bed or 2 bed properties to rent and we tell them we did have, but it went yesterday, 2 days ago or last weekend. For example a landlord recently bought a reasonable 2 bed apartment in Dunstable which we put on the market on Thursday night. We had an applicant walk in on the Thursday morning who I had mentioned it to. They viewed Friday lunchtime and wanted it. We also had 4 other viewings on Saturday, 3 of whom also wanted the apartment. This property built just over 30 years ago was clean, well presented and was always going to rent quickly.

At the moment there is a shortage of good quality and presentable property coming available and if we know of one that is soon to come to market we will have a list of tenants ready to view. This results in the property usually being let before it appears on Rightmove. It will still be shown on Rightmove as the applicant has to pass referencing which can take anything from 1 day to 2 weeks if you are dealing with the Police or NHS. At the moment we have 3 properties that have been purchased by landlords about to come to the rental market and we have a list of viewers waiting for them to come available.

We have seen a number of ‘accidental’ landlords now deciding to put their property on the market to sell which is reducing the number available to rent. These landlords couldn’t sell 3-4 years ago so decided to rent instead, but with the improving housing market some are now deciding that now is the time to sell.

Tenants are also staying in their properties for longer. The number of renters is increasing, but the new renters are more static and if they find a good property that is cared for and has good management by either the Letting Agent or Landlord then they will stay in that property for longer .

ARLA have recently announced that tenants are facing increasing competition as supply in the private rented sector dwindles.

The reasons, it says, are that more landlords are selling up, while the number of ‘reluctant’ landlords has fallen.

So how do you become one of the first to view a new property ? Let’s be honest. To start with if you are a potential tenant treat your visit to a Letting Agent like a job interview. There could be 10 applicants wanting to view that property and the Letting Agent will have to reduce that number for a start.

If you are a Landlord then right now your property should have applicants queuing up to rent it. If not then there are some basic reasons. Firstly you might be asking too much for the rent. £625 might sound nicer then £595, but if it means your apartment was empty for 2 months instead of 2-3 weeks it will take you 2 years to make back the money you lost and the number of tenants you can choose from will also be reduced.

Make the property presentable. If it is tired looking have the walls painted. Often the woodwork is fine and a decorator can easily paint the walls in a 2 bed apartment in a day.

Freshen it up. The previous tenants might have left it in an acceptable condition, but it will still need some fresh air through it, maybe clean the curtains, tie them back to let the sunlight in, add some air fresheners give ever thing a once over with a cloth and polish. Viewers will often be looking at an empty property so make it feel welcoming instead of a property that has been empty for a while.

Ask someone to give you an unbiased opinion. A new set of eyes will point out the flaws that can often be easily fixed and you might be oblivious to them. A potential tenant will see them, but might be too polite to say anything.

Ask the staff at Belvoir to visit and advise on any work that might be required and also for a true rental valuation.

* The Department for Communities and Local Government has launched a How to Rent guide for tenants. It recommends that tenants choose an agent that belongs to one of the accredited bodies and that they look for the Propertymark logo.