8:06 AM, 30th September 2022, About 8 months ago
England’s rental market is returning to good health with a significant reduction in void periods and costs compared to last year, research reveals.
Voids are one of a buy to let landlords’ biggest pain points since an empty property means no rental income.
And, according to research from Total Landlord Insurance, voids also offer a useful data point for measuring the overall health of the rental market.
Essentially, if voids are low, the market is in good shape.
Currently, the average void period across England is 16.8 days a year, with an average monthly rent of £940, equating to £31 per day – this is costing landlords £518 per year.
On a regional level, the longest average void is in the West Midlands where, so far in 2022, properties are empty for an average of 19.8 days of the year at a cost of £528.
In the East Midlands, the average void is 18.3 days at a cost of £457, followed by the North West where 17.4 void days come at a cost of £501 for landlords.
Despite these significant voids, the national overall void period for 2022 is 2.6 days less than it was in 2021 – bringing the cost to landlords down by 7.4%.
Total Landlord says this is a strong indication that the rental market is returning to full strength after 2021’s market continued to struggle with the hangover effects of the pandemic such as lockdown and eviction bans.
For example, the inability for people to move home meant that properties which were empty at the start of lockdown likely remained empty for a long period of time.
While 2022’s national drop in voids is significant, there have been some even bigger declines on a regional level.
The biggest of which has been reported in the North West where today’s average void period of 17.4 days is 4.9 days fewer than it was in 2021.
This has led to a 15.2% reduction in void costs for landlords.
In London, voids are 4.6 days shorter this year than last which means void costs have fallen by 18.5% – the biggest cost reduction of all regions – while the East Midlands has seen voids drop by 3.4 days, thus reducing landlord costs by 10.9%.
Not every region, however, has benefited from a big void reduction.
In the West Midlands, the average void period has reduced by just 0.5 days, while rising rent values means that void expenses have increased by 3.2%.
Similarly, the South West has seen voids drop by 0.8 days, while void costs have risen by 3.5%.
Steve Barnes, the associate director of Total Landlord Insurance, said: “The viability of buy to let property as an investment relies heavily on void periods being kept to an absolute minimum.
“Under normal circumstances, this can be done by ensuring a top tenant experience and utilising astute property management.
“The pandemic, however, was anything but normal which meant that 2020 and 2021 were some of the most void-heavy years in recent memory.”
He added: “It’s great to see the numbers declining across every region of England this year.
“We just have to hope that the current cost of living crisis doesn’t cause voids to once again rise as more and more tenants start to struggle to keep their heads above water, financially speaking.”