Sigma Capital announces findings of trend report, uncovering consumer attitudes to the UK’s rental market

Sigma Capital, one of the UK’s leading build-to-rent providers, which markets The PRS REIT plc homes under the private rental brand, Simple Life has announced the findings of a new market research report, uncovering attitudes to renting across the UK. The sample is not representative of Sigma’s own tenant database, but all renters across the country.

The report monitored changing trends in the UK rental market, identifying the needs and wants of renters, following on from earlier research in 2019. 2000 private renters up and down the country, completed the survey, and the findings were supported by two additional focus groups.

The average renter has been renting for just under seven years and pays around £700 a month. This is a 5.9% increase from 2019, when the average rent was £661 per month. 71% of tenants in the study said that they do so because they can’t afford to buy, as inflation rates for mortgages hit a 30 year high in 2022. This highlights the clear need and demand for a better standard and long-term view of renting that the BTR market is providing.

The study also delved into the type of homes that the market wants. The most sought-after factor was location, with 89% choosing this as a top priority. 69% of renters also rated access to a garden as important. As the pandemic changed ways of working, 44% of respondents now required a home office space. There was also a focus on the environment, with 61% of renters seeking eco-friendly features to reduce their carbon footprint, as well as their bills.

Net happiness amongst renters was reported to have dropped by 8% in three years, with only 62% describing themselves as ‘very’ or ‘quite’ happy. Many of the issues stemmed from security of tenure, with 37% of renters worried that they could be asked to leave at any time. This derives from the unpredictability of renting from a one-off private landlord, particularly during a cost of living crisis. Whilst BTR renters accounted for a small proportion of those taking part in the research, a higher proportion (70%) of build to rent respondents claimed they were happy renting. Respondents also recognised the benefits of renting, citing reasons such as ‘maintenance issues are not my responsibility’ (58%), and ‘I don’t need to worry about losing money if house prices fall’ (39%).

Repairs and decoration are still points of discussion for renters, with disagreements around maintenance accounting for almost one in five instances of unhappy tenants. 61% expected a response from their landlord within one hour for emergency repairs. In terms of putting their own stamp on a property, 70% of tenants wanted to be able to put up pictures without getting consent from their landlord, whilst 45% wanted to paint walls.

Graham Barnet, CEO from Sigma Capital commented on the report:

“It’s great to see the majority of renters are still happy, but our report clearly highlights how the cost of living is affecting renters. Landlords who have adapted to a post-Covid market, offering flexibility, excellent locations and space to live as a family, will benefit in the long run. Ultimately, it’s about offering tenants a service that we would want for ourselves and creating an aspiration, rather than a stop-gap mentality around renting.”

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