Landlords and homeowners switching to longer-term lets from short-term rentals has significantly increased in recent weeks, research has shown. 

Primarily due to the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a reduction in the number of people searching for rooms across the UK during the past week, according to the house and flat share platform SpareRoom.

With the approaching prospect of a countrywide lockdown being implemented across Great Britain, the SpareRoom website reports that homeowners with rooms to let are keen to find renters, understandably. 

In fact, SpareRoom has experienced an increase of 15 per cent in advertisements from agents, with an uplift of 12 per cent from landlords in the last few days only. In part, this has been driven by homeowners and landlords switching from utilising short-term rent platforms such as Airbnb as tourist accommodation and searching for longer-term lets for their rooms. 

As supply currently outstrips demand in some regions of the country, 18 per cent of letting agents have reduced the asking price of rental homes in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, 11 per cent of buy-to-let landlords have followed the same strategy, with some homeowners mentioning COVID-19 directly as the cause for this reduction in asking price. 

With a growing concern and fear about face-to-face meetings and contact, the flat-share platform has experienced a significant trend in the past seven days of people choosing video calls in order to get to know one another and viewing the property for the first time using this method.

A director at SpareRoom, Matt Hutchinson, explained that whenever there is uncertainty, people will put off making any big decisions, such as moving home. This was the case during the confusion after Brexit, and it is being experienced currently in an increasingly marked way during the coronavirus crisis. In contrast, those with rooms to let are hoping desperately to find new tenants before the UK is put into lockdown.

Although it is still early days for the impact of the virus to truly take effect, Mr Hutchinson explains that they are witnessing interesting changes in the behaviour of both parties. Following the widespread cancellation of short-term stays across the country, they are seeing that both homeowners and landlords are moving to longer-term security rather than short-term rentals. 

He goes on to state that tenants are becoming increasingly creative in using innovations and technology such as video calls to conduct virtual interviews and viewings of potential rental properties. The people that the tenant chooses to live with also make a far bigger impact on the renter’s life than the rental accommodation itself. This makes video calls a really useful way to gain an important first impression prior to deciding to progress with the tenancy and go visit the property. Virtual first meetings are also a win-win in that they reduce the need for social contact and travel, which is the ideal solution during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Property management software is also particularly useful during difficult and uncertain times. Software enables letting agents and landlords to track tenancies, communicate with residents and monitor maintenance tasks and also streamline processes, reduce costs, manage finances and collect rent payments.

Property management software also leads to numerous key benefits, such as allowing property managers to perform important functions easily. These include keeping track of contact information, lease dates and rent payments. Lease tracking software also automates the entire leasing process, from finding prospective tenants to check-out.

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