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Tenants Returning To Central London Locations

April 1, 2021

It has been estimated by the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) that approximately 700,000 people fled the capital in 2020 and early 2021, as the industries that employed them shut down as a result of the pandemic. Many returned to their countries of origin, with others opting for more space and outdoor living outside of the city or with families.

As a consequence, Covid-19 drove down average central London rent by 13%, taking prices back to rates not seen since the global financial crisis of 2009.

Despite this, urban living still clearly has its attraction, as these cheaper rents coupled with the promise of brighter days to come have sparked a newly high demand for rentals in central London locations. With summer on its way and the hope of life returning to normal, people are flocking back to take advantage of the low rents whilst immersing themselves back into convenient locations full of life and - newly opening - amenities.

Some areas of the capital have seen rents fall by as much as 22%, but now, renter registrations are up a whopping 44% year-on-year.

The lure of central city living

While the need for central locations on the basis of workplace proximity is still diminished due to the age of remote working that Covid-19 has brought with it, the lure of the city’s central living has been reignited. Perks such as shops, bars, restaurants and London high streets teeming with life coupled with the bargains currently on the rental market are drawing people back in at a significant rate.

According to Rightmove.co.uk, every one of the top ten latest hotspots for rental searches are currently in Zones 1 and 2, which is a stark contrast to the searches being made the previous August. Back then, eight of the top ten listed were outside of Zone 2.

To put this into some perspective, last August, in the depths of the pandemic, Canary Wharf was ranked 203rd regarding rental search annual growth, but now this city hub has catapulted up to 8th position, with a massive 89% in annual search growth.

Even more staggering is the 126% increase in annual rent searches for the Wandsworth suburb of Nine Elms - the largest rise across the capital. Average asking rents are currently at £2,802 per month in the area, a figure down 15% from the year before.

This is a particularly vibrant part of London to live, with lots of community pockets that satisfy many different tastes. It also has a lot of green space given its proximity to the heart of the city. The transformation of Battersea Power Station is almost complete and coupled with the extension to the Northern Line poised for opening this year, it’s not surprising that both Battersea and Nine Elms are experiencing so much popularity.

Studio, 1 Bathroom

Judd Street, Bloomsbury, WC1H

£250 per week (£1,086 pcm)  tenancy info

View property details.


Here are the top 10 annual increases in London rental searches for February 2021

1. Nine Elms, Wandsworth - up 126% with a 15% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,802 down from £3,296)

2. Battersea, Wandsworth - up 111% with a 10% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,569 down from £2,854)

3. Clapham Common, Lambeth - up 109% with a 3% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,071 down from £2,135)

4. Clapham, Lambeth - up 97% with an 11% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,305 down from £2,590)

5. Rotherhithe, Southwark - up 93% with a 15% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £1,644 down from £1,934)

6. Hyde Park, Westminster - up 92% with a 30% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,346 down from £3,351)

7. Primrose Hill, Camden - up 89% with an 12% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,609 down from £2,965)

8. Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets - up 89% with a 16% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £1,644 down from £1,934)

9. Canonbury, Islington - up 89% with a 16% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £1,930 down from £2,298)

10. Notting Hill, Kensington and Chelsea - up 86% with a 19% drop in average monthly rent (currently at £2,881 down from £3,557)


1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom

St Johns Hill, Battersea, SW11

£400 per week (£1,738 pcm)  tenancy info

View property details.


2 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms

Northbourne Road, Clapham, SW4

£445 per week (£1,934 pcm)  tenancy info

View property details.

Studio, 1 Bathroom

St. Marks Square, Primrose Hill, NW1

£360 per week (£1,562 pcm)  tenancy info

View property details.

1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom

Fulham Road, Fulham, SW6

£322 per week (£1,399 pcm)  tenancy info

View property details.



Lease durations capped for bargains

With the Government’s lockdown lifts still on relative tenterhooks, tenants are pushing to lock in bargain rental prices for longer terms, even asking for three year tenancies. Landlords, however, are anticipating a significant market swing in their favour as the pandemic conditions ease and are resisting the temptation to lock in low-rent commitments to long-term tenancy agreements. Most are now sticking to 12 month leases, down from the pre-pandemic average of 18 month terms, or adding in yearly rent-review clauses.

But it is certainly a great time to be a landlord in London. Lettings Manager at Portico Bloomsbury, Shaun Cherian says, “The increase in tenants returning to London is significant, and whilst rental asking prices currently remain low, it’s only a matter of time before the market experiences a revival that will greatly relieve our long-suffering city landlords.”

Corporate upturn to further boost returns to London

Corporate relocators accounted for almost 40% of London’s prime central rentals market before Covid-19, yet currently it’s sitting at nearer 10%. With such a significant increase in returning tenants before any real return to offices occurs, it can only spell an even bigger jump in demand ahead.

With autumn signalling the promise of returning foreign students as well as London university intakes, too, the market seems set to continue re-expanding for some time to come.

Additionally, the lifts in lockdown are poised to bring about a sizable boom in Airbnb bookings as people all over the country desperately await a return to normalcy and the opportunity to get away.

Final thoughts

The future still holds relative uncertainty regarding the speed of economic recovery and to what extent returns to London offices will occur. Nevertheless, the figures are well and truly speaking for themselves - tenants are returning to central London in their droves. It’s fast becoming a great time to be a London landlord again.

If you are interested in renting a London property, get in touch with us on 020 7099 4000. !!London rental properties here.

Or, if you’re a landlord, check out our lettings packages, or get an update to date rental valuation on your property using our online rent calculator. You can get a property valuation here.


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