Rise in number of landlords helps calm post-Brexit lettings fears

One of Scotland's biggest letting agencies has reported a 'significant rise' in interest from landlords in the weeks following the referendum, which its chief executive says should further calm concerns about the impact of Brexit on the residential rental market.

David Alexander's agency manages some 4,400 properties across the Central Belt.
David Alexander's agency manages some 4,400 properties across the Central Belt.

Braemore is based in Edinburgh, which delivered the strongest Remain vote of anywhere in Scotland and is home to thousands of Europeans working or studying in the city. The uncertainty of their long-term future has given rise to speculation about the knock-on impact on the rental market.

“The concerns we have tapped into have come mainly from the mainstream media,” said chief executive Ian Lawson. “It is not so much that our clients are running for the hills, but if this is said enough or heard enough, property owners might start to believe that they need to exit the market.”

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His agency, which manages more than 2,500 properties across the city, has seen a year-on-year rise of 40 per cent in the number of landlords signing up for its letting and management services since the Brexit decision.

“Confidence in Edinburgh’s property market remains high and for us it’s very much business as usual despite concerns around the Leave vote. As demand continues to significantly outstrip supply, we can only expect this to endure for the long term and continue to contribute to an increase in landlord investment return. With attractive rates also being shown on the higher end of the market, Edinburgh’s private rental sector continues to be a sound investment.

“Despite growing uncertainty following Brexit, buy-to-let mortgages are still being offered by lenders at a very reasonable rate and as the majority of buyers in Scotland reside here, the market remains insular and is not hugely influenced by overseas investors.”

His remarks echo comments by David Alexander, whose agency DJ Alexander manages some 4,400 properties across the Central Belt, including Edinburgh. Prior to 23 June, Alexander said a vote to leave would have little effect on the residential rental market, though there might be some disruption at the lower bend.

Since the decision, he has argued that demand for rented accommodation will continue at its present rate among the indigenous population. And although first-time demand from EU tenants will likely fall “significantly” once Brexit becomes a reality, this will not mean a complete collapse of tenants from overseas.

Alexander has noted that foreign citizens accounted for 26 per cent of the 389 new tenant applications handled by the agency’s Edinburgh office in June, but nearly 12 per cent of all applications came from people outside the EU who can only live here if they have special skills or are high-end students.