Shropshire Star

Estate agents provide analysis of rental market in Shropshire - and advice for landlords thinking of selling up

Landlords should hold fire on any plans to sell up and exit the rental marketplace.

Last updated
Buy-to-let is still a great investment in the long term, an estate agent has said

The message from West Midlands firm Nicol & Co came as estate agents this week gave a picture of the rental market within Shropshire.

The market was in the spotlight this week as long-promised plans to abolish so-called no-fault evictions were introduced to Parliament on Wednesday.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove said the Renters’ (Reform) Bill would allow tenants to challenge poor landlords without losing their home.

A new ombudsman would also be established to oversee dispute resolutions while a digital “property portal” will be set up to assist property managers in understanding their obligations, the Government said.

Renters will also be given the legal right to request a pet in their home which landlords must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse, according to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

DLUHC said its plans will affect 11 million tenants in England and two million landlords, who it claims will be more easily able to evict anti-social tenants, and the classification of disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction will be broadened.

Notice periods will be reduced where renters have been “irresponsible” – for example, by breaching their tenancy agreement or causing damage to the property, according to the Government.

The Bill also seeks to make it illegal for landlords and agents to impose blanket bans on renting to benefit claimants or families with children, and applies “decent home” quality standards to the private rented sector for the first time.

Aaron Manley

Reflecting on the current rental market and the Bill, which has yet to be voted on, Aaron Manley, director of Mannleys Estate Agent in Wellington, said: "We are running out of rental stock and that hasn't happened for some time.

"We currently have more stock under management than we have for the past seven years. Tenants are staying longer, as new rental agreements are often on a higher monthly rate and stock is scarce.

"Some landlords are putting rents up in order to keep their rental income working for them, as like all businesses they're seeing the squeeze with the cost of living and interest rate and energy bill hikes.

"But I would advise landlords if they can, to be cautious with this. If they have a longstanding tenant, who pays and looks after their property, my advice is to ride the storm and only a small percentage increase is advisable.

"Landlords who bought the property mortgage free are able to sit quite comfortably at the moment and again, I would urge them not to sell up as the market will right itself.

"We are seeing a lot of landlords either thinking of or selling up and we are looking at new schemes of sale to help those homeowners. Properties under £250k are selling quite well, especially with the re-introduction of 100 per cent mortgages. But properties over that are taking longer to sell.

"A lot of interest is coming in from the Midlands and the south for properties in our area, as investors look to increase their portfolios. Around 40 per cent of buyers are from outside of Shropshire.

"Mannleys is averaging 218 detailed rental property views per day via Rightmove and our 'patch average' is 118. That's over 50 per cent more than other agents with rental properties across all TF postcodes. In reality, if you can afford to purchase a buy-to-let, you still should, if the figures are right, it’s still a great investment in the long term."

Reflecting on the Rental Reform Bill, Mr Manley said the abolition of the Section 21 notice, the requirement for landlords to join an ombudsman to help settle disputes, and the allowing of pets were "all great news for tenants who have issues with unfair landlords".

"It should do much to take negligent landlords out of the equation, which is positive news," he said.

"But for landlords who are doing a good job, these things have the potential to create more cost and greater difficulties if troublesome tenants are in situ.

“I would strongly advise landlords to engage a compliant estate agent. By using a Propertymark and Arla-protected agent like Mannleys you are working with experts who can provide up-to-date advice and guide you through every step of the way, and it can be invaluable to have an experienced agent on your side and save you money in the long run.”

Slawek Zalewski

Meanwhile, Slawek Zalewski, head of residential lettings at Samuel Wood, which handles all types of residential and commercial property, throughout Shrewsbury and the Welsh Marches, said: "The Renters Reform Bill been long awaited. Landlords are waiting to see how abolishing the Section 21 notice (notice to tenants to vacate) and reforms to the Section 8 notice (to end an assured tenancy) will look in detail and how supported they will feel.

"There are rafts of other, less-talked-about changes, like creating a single system of periodic tenancies, doing away with fixed-term tenancies, giving tenants more right to keep pets in their homes amongst many others. The rental market remains strong, with high demand still being what drives it forward.

"However, supply remains low and there are no signs of it changing for the better. The cost-of-living crisis is clearly impacting on tenants’ decision making and we do see ‘trading down’, with smaller competitively priced properties seeing an increase in demand.

"For those properties in demand, we can easily see up to 20-30 viewing requests with multiple applications being received.

"Landlords are either unaware of the coming changes or have been awaiting the details with bated breath. However, the stock levels remain depressed and there is no sign of the supply increasing.

"We do see landlords increasingly considering their options. This does include both landlords who own one or two properties as well as very large portfolio landlords.

"However, once the dust settles, which it will, and the market adjusts to the new legislative framework as set out in the bill, being a landlord will still be the right choice for many. We will just have to see how competitive this choice will be compared with other options."

James Gynne

James Gwynne, lettings manager at Nicol & Co, said: “The message for now to landlords across the sector from us is essentially, don’t fret.

“There are still huge benefits in letting your property and when a change like this occurs, a new normal will be established. The best advice I can give is that now is a good time to communicate with your local managing agent with any queries.”

Mr Gwynne added: “There is a concern among agents and landlords alike that certain areas of the bill will result in more landlords leaving the sector due to tighter regulations and more complications on ending an unwelcome tenancy.

“While I don’t completely agree with the proposals, ultimately the government will need to add some incentives in at some point to keep landlords in the market.

“They do not currently have an alternative solution to social housing and if more landlords leave the sector, it will negatively impact tenants – the opposite of the Government’s intentions.”

But he stressed that the benefits contained in the Bill should not be overlooked.

“As long as the strengthening of the Section 8 notice is made relatively straightforward and the court application process is not too legislatively complicated, then landlords should still be able to take comfort if needing to give notice for the more obvious reasons, for example, if they need to sell or move back in," he said.

"The new ombudsman process should make the resolution of disputes easier, plus having a regulating body to listen to arguments on both sides might give the government a better overall view of the sector, resulting in better, more refined and balanced legislation for the sector in the long run.

“Having a ‘Decent Homes Standard’ will help to reward landlords who look after their tenants and provide well-run properties. This should also help to ease the bad ones out of the system.”