When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict lockdown measures on March 23, including a ban on all but essential house moves, searches for rental properties on the site plummeted by 35 per cent.
However, several weeks of bright sunshine and warm evenings have seen demand steadily returning, and although still 20 per cent down on pre-lockdown levels, searches for homes with gardens to rent are now at their highest level so far this year.
The viewing figures are also up year on year, despite the recent turmoil across the property market.
Online viewings of rental listings showing homes with outside space rose 57 per cent last week compared to the same week in April 2019, with Herne Hill in south-east London seeing the biggest year-on-year increase of 324 per cent.
“Londoners who want a garden but aren’t keen to make a move too far out know it will come at a premium price because they’re such a rarity,” says Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst. “But they may have some luck finding blocks of apartments that have communal gardens, or may end up living closer to some of the capital’s beautiful parks instead.”
Shipside points out: “Maisonettes become more common when you start looking from Zone 3 outwards, which can offer good value as they’re often cheaper to rent than houses but are likely to have the added bonus of a private garden at the back.”
Top 10 London areas by increased searches for homes to rent with gardens
|London area||Year-on-year increase in searches|
With lockdown measures now extended until May 7 at the earliest, renters desperate for precious outside space might consider a move away from the capital.
Southsea on the South-East coast tops the list of areas seeing increased searches for rental homes with gardens in the last two weeks.
Popular locations for part-time London commuters, Cambridge and Worthing are next on the list, while others in the top 10 include Marlow in Buckinghamshire and the seaside destinations of Bognor Regis, Dover, Southend and Margate.
“It may be that during lockdown people are rethinking their needs and location and are searching for some outdoor space and tranquillity,” says Rightmove’s Shipside. “That allure may draw them further away from where they have habitually lived and travelled to work from, as can be seen by some of the coastal locations that have seen the largest search increases.
“Interestingly, we’ve not yet seen this trend mirrored by those looking to buy a home, perhaps because renting is usually a much quicker process and so renters are thinking sooner about what changes they want for their next place.”
Although physical viewings have been put on hold, some estate agents are offering online viewings – with 3D virtual viewing technology companies reporting a surge of interest from agents.
Requests for complete scans of properties, which include features such as allowing viewers to take accurate measurements of rooms, increased by 80 per cent in the week lockdown began.
Estate agent Savills says its live video streams, in which the occupier walks around the home while the agent talks the potential tenant or buyer through the rooms, are proving to be its most successful type of virtual viewing.