‘Bill writing’ outstrips renters’ needs as cost of living crisis hits

According to Rightmove, renters search for “bill writing” when looking for a new home, and it’s now the most popular term.

  • Rightmove found tenants looking for properties in larger areas
  • 25% fewer properties available for rent than at the same time last year
  • Rising interest rates and reduced tax incentives for landlords are driving down supply levels

With utility bills set to hit £5,000 next year, ‘billing write’ has become the most popular search term among renters searching for homes on Rightmove.

The term has overtaken “garden” and “pet” as tenant necessities, according to the real estate portal.

At the same time, Rightmove found that renters were broadening their search. The average search area jumped to his 137 square kilometers, almost double the 2018 average of 70 square kilometers.

Soaring energy has led tenants to look for homes with some utilities included

Rising bills and rent seem to be driving a shift in tenant search habits. Last year, “billing write” was out of the top five search terms on Rightmove.

Billing has increased dramatically over the past few months. Citizens Advice warns millions of households fear rising energy debt, with half expected to run out of fuel this winter if no action is taken to curb rising energy costs doing.

Landlords are also being further squeezed by a shortage of real estate on the market, with homes renting out twice as fast as they did two years ago, Rightmove said.

While the number of new rentals increased by 3% month-on-month in July, total available rental housing is still down 25% from this time last year.

Rents are also on the rise. Average asking rents outside London are 19% higher than two years ago, rising from £949 per month to a record high of £1,126 per month.

Rightmove expects rents to continue to rise, with nationally projected to be 8% higher than last year.

Rising rents may be behind the decision of searchers to look for places to live further afield in hopes of finding affordable places.

The rise of hybrid work during and after the pandemic has given employees more flexibility in where they live.

Short supply: Higher mortgage rates and lower tax incentives are causing landlords to stop renting out properties, leading to a shortage of rental housing.

Short supply: Higher mortgage rates and lower tax incentives are causing landlords to stop renting out properties, leading to a shortage of rental housing.

Rightmove real estate expert Tim Bannister said:

“Although it’s not as constrained as it was a few months ago, the number of housing units is still not enough to meet demand from tenants.

“Homes are in short supply as more people choose to stay in their homes and sign longer contracts, some landlords sell for more onerous taxes and others This is due to taking advantage of record house prices and hybrid working practices shifting some demand to more rural and suburban pockets.

“This has all led to a highly competitive rental market in many areas, with agents reporting properties are being rented out in just a few hours in some cases.”

Annual profits for landlords have nearly halved in the past eight months alone, according to real estate firm Hamptons.

Prompted by an increase in the Bank of England’s base rate, mortgage rates at major financial institutions have risen from 1.25% to 3.12% since October.

For a £200,000 interest-only mortgage, the landlord would typically pay £209 per month in October. Today, they typically end up paying an extra £521 a month or £3,744 a year.

Landlords have also been hit with tax changes in the past few years, making it impossible to fully offset mortgage costs with taxes.

Rightmove says all these factors have resulted in a “highly competitive and fast-moving rental market.”

10 energy saving tips

The Energy Saving Trust shows you these 10 tips and how much a typical home can save in annual energy and water costs.For more information Click here for energy saving tips.

1. Turn off standby for appliances: £55

2. Wind resistance gap: £45

3. Turn off the lights: £20

4. Wash at 30 degrees and use less once a week: £28

5. Avoid Tumble Dryers: £60

6. Limit showers to four minutes: £70

7. Exchange weekly bath for shower: £12

8. Don’t overfill the kettle and install a faucet aerator: £36

9. Use the dishwasher less once a week: £14

10. Insulate the hot water cylinder: £35

Source: Energy Saving Trust, based on a typical 3-bedroom gas-heated home in the UK using April 2022 price cap pricing

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