The rental market in lockdown 3.0 and beyond – what does 2021 have in store?

  • Housing Hand looks at student and wider rental market for coming year
  • Brexit to compound impact of COVID-19 on landlords
  • Hope on horizon from 2022 onwards

2021 was viewed by many as a fresh start – a chance to move on from the myriad difficulties of 2020. Yet January brought more of the same almost immediately, with school closures and the strict implementation of lockdown 3.0. There’s been plenty of speculation about what this could mean for the UK’s property sales over the coming year, but what about the private rented sector?

UK rental guarantor service Housing Hand works with landlords and tenants across the UK, providing the company with plenty of insights into the difficulties that the sector is facing. According to Group Managing Director Jeremy Robinson, 2021 could be a bumpy year for the rental market.

The pandemic has created a number of issues, ranging from tenants becoming unable to pay their rent to would-be renters experiencing difficulties during the referencing process. The latest lockdown and its subsequent economic impact have the potential to exacerbate these problems significantly.”

Jeremy Robinson, Group Managing Director, Housing Hand

And then there’s Brexit. COVID-related travel restrictions have largely eclipsed Brexit-related issues so far. However, the impact of changes to flows of workers and students into the UK from Europe will be increasingly felt over the course of 2021, according to Housing Hand’s Terry Mason.

“A large number of those who travel to the UK for work or study rent their homes privately while here. Landlords who serve that market are going to feel the impact of Brexit strongly this year.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

COVID comes into play as well for the student private rental market. Should universities deliver courses virtually rather than in-person come the start of the new academic year in September, there’s likely to be a significant impact on those who usually rent properties to students.

Thankfully, the news isn’t all doom and gloom. Rural areas and the Home Counties have enjoyed a surge in rental demand as tenants move out of London and other major cities and Housing Hand anticipates this trend continuing in 2021, as renters continue to drift out of urban areas as their current tenancies expire.

“Lockdown 3.0 will once again emphasise the benefits of renting larger properties with outside space. The Office for National Statistics reports that 21% of London’s households have no access to a garden, either private or shared. The lower cost of renting outside of the city means that a garden suddenly becomes much more affordable.”

Terry Mason, Group Operations Director, Housing Hand

A further glimmer of hope for landlords is that, while COVID has had a significant impact on the UK rental sector, there’s every reason to believe that a return to pre-pandemic normality will take place at some point once vaccinations reach the required levels. Hopes may not be too high for this to happen in 2021, and certainly not in time to mitigate the impact of lockdown 3.0, but there is a brighter future ahead eventually for both landlords and tenants.


For more information please contact Housing Hand today on +44 (0) 207 205 2625 or visit