With property prices still easing their way out of the trough created across most of Europe by the financial crisis, those who can afford to buy have rarely had it so good. A recent survey by the UK's Association of Residential Letting Agents has uncovered more confidence than ever before amongst landlords in the popularity of renting.
According to ARLA's survey, compiled in the last quarter of 2010, 71% of landlords said they believed renting was more popular than a year ago, compared to just 35% in the same period of 2009. 67% believed this was primarily out of necessity, as an increasing number of young professionals believed they lacked the financial security to purchase a home.
With the average age to buy a first home now reported to be 35, it's possible that renting will become the norm for more people than ever before, said Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA. While more and more people seem to be renting post-recession, for many this is through need rather than choice - a trend that will continue as long as the demand for homes outstrips supply.
With landlords in more of a position of power than ever before, they are able to command higher rents and often instigate 'bidding wars' among prospective tenants, particularly in the UK where government regulations towards letting are more relaxed. Local property website FindaProperty.com reports 13% of its users have experienced 'rental gazumping', or being outbid for a property at the last minute having already committed a deposit, in the last 12 months, including one unlucky renter from south-west London, Matthew Kattan.
Less than a week before we were due to move in, the estate agent contacted me to inform me that the landlord had let the property to another tenant, said Kattan. I was obviously less than impressed - my offer had been accepted, I'd made a financial commitment to the property and had started the formal process of moving in, only to be gazumped by someone with a better offer after the property was supposed to be off the market!