Tenant survey 2015

Significant survey of UK tenants provides insight to the private rented sector

A recent survey conducted here at HomeLet has revealed what tenants really think about the UK’s rental market. The survey, conducted in October, was answered by 14,782 tenants, giving us a unique insight into what they think about their landlord or letting agent, the property they rent and the state of the UK’s housing market in general. Here’s what we found:

Part one: The UK's rental market

In part one of our survey, we endeavoured to learn more about who’s renting in 2015, what channels they’re renting through and why they’d chosen their specific property. In addition, we also asked more about why they were currently renting, rather than buying, and what their future plans might be.


1) Who do you rent through? 

Who do you rent through?Respondents
Landlord 29%
Letting Agent 71%

The majority of respondents rented via a letting agent, with over double the amount of tenants renting through a letting agent rather than directly from a private landlord.


2) Are you happy with your landlord or letting agent?

Who do you rent through?Percentage of tenants ‘happy’ or 'quite happy' with service
Landlord 90%
Letting Agent 78%

It was positive news for landlords, letting agents and tenants in our question about tenant happiness, with 78% of tenants who rent through a letting agent either ‘happy’, ‘quite happy’ or ‘somewhat happy’ with the service they receive. For those renting from private landlords, this rose as high as 90%, showing us that the vast majority of tenants were happy with the services they receive. 


3) When you chose your rental home, how important were the following factors?

  5 (very important)4321 (not very important)
Rental cost 58.5% 28.1% 10.9% 1.6% 0.9%
Low crime rate 38.2% 32.0% 21.4% 5.6% 2.8%
Parking 36.4% 26.0% 14.5% 6.6% 16.5%
Distance to work 32.3% 31.4% 21.0% 6.0% 9.3%
Attractiveness of surrounding area 31.6% 43.1% 19.6% 3.8% 1.9%
Public transport/airports 26.2% 25.2% 22.0% 12.2% 14.4%
Local amenities 20.2% 36.6% 29.4% 7.6% 6.2%
Local school 17.4% 8.7% 6.5% 5.7% 61.7%

When it comes to why tenants are renting their current properties, it’s clear from the survey results that the cost of renting a property is the most important consideration for many, with 86.6% of respondents telling us it was either ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’. Following this, low crime rates in the area and available parking were the largest contributory factors.

Of the 31% of tenants with children, 72% rated local schools as an important consideration.


4) Thinking of when you last moved properties, which of the following applied to your situation? 

DecisionPercentage of respondents
It was my own decision to move 61%
This is the first rental property I've lived in 20%
I received notice to quit from my landlord 13%
Other (please specify) 6%

The survey also showed that many tenants are also moving of their own accord, rather than being asked to move out by their landlord. Over half (61%) of those who responded to our survey cited that it was their own decision to move from their last property, in comparison to only 13% whose landlords served them with a notice to quit.


5) Ideally, would you prefer to buy a home (either outright or via a mortgage) than to rent?

DecisionPercentage of respondents
Yes, I'd prefer to buy 71%
No, I'm happy renting 14%
Don't mind either way 11%
Other (please specify) 4%

71% of respondents also stated that they’d prefer to own a property than to rent a property. Only 14% of respondents said that they wouldn’t prefer to buy as they were happy renting. This showed us that, in spite of most people being happy renting, they still aspire to buy eventually. 


6) If you'd prefer to buy, what's stopping you from buying your own home?

(Respondents were asked to select the top three reasons)

Contributing factorPercentage of tenants selecting each factor as a top reason
Not enough money for a deposit 66%
Not able to get a mortgage because of household income, and/or mortgage lenders' requirements re income multiples and/or available income after outgoings 29%
May need to change location in the near future so don't want to be tied down 16%
I want or need to live in a very specific area and there are no properties for sale, in that area, within my budget 15%
Not enough money for monthly mortgage payments 9%
Not able to get a mortgage for other reasons (bankruptcy, already named on another mortgage etc) 8%
Just about to buy a home 8%
Can't find a suitable property for my needs 7%
Other (please specify) 10%

Following on from the above, the survey explored why this might be. Perhaps unsurprisingly in the current climate, many tenants were unable to buy because they couldn’t afford a deposit, with 66% of respondents listing this among their top three reasons. Additionally, it appears as though tightened lending criteria was also a factor, with 29% of respondents saying that an inability to get a mortgage was a contributing factor that was stopping them buying their own home. 


7) Are you currently saving for a deposit to buy a home?

AnswerPercentage of responses
Yes 46%
No 54%

The majority of respondents told us that they weren't currently saving for a deposit to buy a home. Over half of renters (54%) are currently not saving for a deposit at all. 


8) If given the choice, would you prefer to live alone? 

AnswerPercentage of responses
Yes 37%
No 48%
No preference 15%

The tenants we surveyed were split on their preferred living arrangements, with 37% stating that they’d prefer to live alone, compared with 48% who’d rather live with someone else - such as a friend or a spouse. 


9) How long do you intend to continue renting?

AnswerPercentage of responses
Longer than one year 50%
One year 14%
Less than 6 months 8%
Don’t know 28%

The findings reveal that the majority of tenants plan on renting for the long term, with half stating that they intend to continue renting for longer than a year. 


10) Where did you first see the property you currently rent?

AnswerPercentage of responses
Rightmove 55%
High street letting agent 15%
Zoopla 11%
'To Let' sign 3%
Social media 2%
Newspaper 1%
Other (please specify) 13%

The survey reiterates how important property portals can be, with over half (55%) using Rightmove, and an extra 11% using Zoopla. Only 15% said they found their property through a high street letting agent, showing us the huge growth of online property marketing. 

Some of the other responses included word of mouth, friends, Gumtree, Property Pal, and SpareRoom


Part Two: Individual thoughts on the property market 

As well as finding out about the rental market as a whole in the UK, our survey also set out to find what the tenants’ options were on their current situation, and their relationship with their landlords or letting agents. The results were interesting, painting the private rented sector in a very positive light, with most tenants reporting to be happy with their situation and living arrangements. 


1) 50% thought the rent they pay is good value, or quite good value, for money 

Overall, just over half of tenants felt as though they received either ‘good’ or ‘quite good’ value for money when renting. The results showed that there were some significant differences in the perception of value, depending on where people lived. In Northern Ireland, 67% of tenants felt that the rent represented value for money, but this dropped to 33% for tenants living in London.

2) 86% were happy with the standard of their rented home

Almost 9 out of 10 tenants stated that they were either ‘somewhat happy’, ‘happy’ or ‘quite happy’ with the standard of their property. This suggests that the majority of tenants surveyed are relatively happy with the standard of the home they rent. However, 10% did state that they were ‘not really happy’ and 4% stated that they were ‘definitely not happy’.

3) 88% feel their landlord or letting agent is approachable

The data also reveals that the vast majority of tenants have a good relationship with their landlord or letting agent, with 88% describing them as ‘approachable’.

4) 88% feel their landlord or letting agent is contactable

The same can also be said of contacting landlords or letting agents. It appears as though tenants are also happy to, and find it easy to, pick up the phone or write to their landlord or letting agent; with 88% feeling as though their landlord or letting agent is contactable.


5) Whether their landlord/letting agent allowed them to decorate the property 

 LandlordLetting agent
Yes 43% 32%
No 24% 31%
I'm not sure 33% 37%

When looking specifically at decoration, it appears as though tenants who rent directly from a private landlord have a greater chance of their requests to decorate a property being accepted, with 43% of landlords allowing decoration, compared with 32% of letting agents. Only a quarter of landlords had turned down a request, compared with almost a third of letting agents. 


6) 84% understood their tenancy agreement, 14% didn't fully understand and 2% didn't understand 

When it comes to tenancy terms, it appears as though the vast majority of tenants understand their rights and responsibilities - as well as the responsibilities of their landlords - with 84% of respondents stating that they understood their tenancy agreement.


7) Are you happy with the speed of repairs carried out on your property?

 LandlordLetting agent
Very happy 34% 21%
Somewhat 16% 20%
Quite 29% 24%
Not really 11% 17%
Definitely not 11% 17%

Far fewer tenants were happy with the standard of repairs carried out on their property, with only 34% ‘very happy’ with repairs carried out by a landlord and only 21% ‘very happy’ with those carried out by a letting agent. 


8) 13% of tenants have had their deposit withheld

The survey showed that only 13% of respondents had a deposit withheld, with 87% not having a deposit withheld at all.


9) Reasons why deposit was withheld 

Cleaning 32%
Damage to landlord's fixtures and fittings 10%
State of garden 4%
Rent arrears 3%
Damage to landlord's furniture 2%
Other (please specify) 49%

Of the deposits withheld, 32% were due to cleaning issues, while 10% were because of damage. We’ll be providing a summary shortly of the responses that were listed as ‘other’ - to provide further insight.  


In conclusion, our survey's revealed the complexities of the current UK housing market.

With responses from almost 15,000 tenants, we’re able to conclude that the majority of tenants are happy in their rental property, with many feeling that it’s good value for money, with an approachable and contactable landlord or letting agent.

It also revealed that most people, who are currently renting, aspire to buy a home - with most planning on renting for the long-term while saving for a deposit for their own home. 

About the tenants surveyed

1) Where's the location of the property you currently rent?

Region%No. of tenants
South East 18% 2,605
Greater London 16% 2,374
South West 10% 1,527
Yorkshire & Humberside 9% 1,265
East Anglia 7% 1,034
East Midlands 7% 1,013
North West 6% 863
West Midlands 5% 728
Scotland 3% 496
Northern Ireland 2% 315
Wales 2% 308
North East 2% 299
Not specified 13% 1,955
Total responses   14,782

Our survey respondents came from a range of regions across the UK, providing us with a key insight into the property market as a whole, rather than just one specific region


2) How many adults currently live in your rented home? 

AnswerPercentage of responses
1 28%
2 58%
3 7%
4 4%
More than 4 3%

From the responses, it was found that most rented properties are only home to either one or two adults. Overall, over half of rented homes contain two adults. 


3) How many children currently live in your rented home? 

AnswerPercentage of responses
0 69%
1 16%
2 10%
3 3%
More than 3 2%

Contrastingly, it appears as though the vast majority of rented homes contain no children, with almost 70% of respondents not having any children currently living in their rented home. 


4) What's your age? 

Tenants Survey 2015 age

When looking at the age of the tenants surveyed, the largest proportion of tenants were aged between 31 and 41. Data from the HomeLet Rental Index, which looks at a much larger volume of data, shows that the average of a tenant in the UK is 34.   


5) What's your gender? 

GenderPercentage of responses
Male 45%
Female 55%
Other 1%


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