Football is even more important to the North West economy than many assume, having no fewer than 20 professional clubs. Historically, players have bought. With salaries of around £220,000 pcm in the Premier League and £35,000 in the Championship, they could afford something rather grand. Today though, stamp duty on a house equivalent to our superstar’s annual salary, is £230,000 – enough to rent an even grander house for a year or two. This makes renting, given football’s inherent job insecurity, the obvious choice. Players often face stiff competition though, because most move at the same time: the transfer window of mid-May to early August. William Jordan, who leads our lettings service in the North West, says this makes for a fascinating micro-market: “Top players have very different lifestyles to most high-end tenants, so their ideal house is often one owned by a senior footballer who has moved away. It has everything he wants, plus it’s the former home of one of his heroes”.
Other markets are similarly seasonal. Families and students all want to move before the new academic term, or before Christmas. The result is peaks in activity for which landlords need to be prepared. Underlying demand for family house rentals is growing, but tenants expect a standard of finish in which many ‘accidental landlords’ are not prepared to invest, adding to those leaving the market due to greater taxation.
As of June, all rentals are being affected by new rules outlawing fees charged to incoming tenants, such as for references and credit checks. These costs now have to be borne by landlords. Market forces are working this through but, in our view, the outcome will be neutral: rents will rise enough to cover costs. Only agents who were taking advantage of their position to make unfair profits, will lose out. Agents should facilitate markets on behalf of clients, not make their own ‘power plays’ so, if this is the outcome, the legislation will have proved worthwhile.