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In the twelve months leading up to April 2024, rents reportedly increased on average by 8.9%, according to the Office of National Statistics. This percentage is actually down from the 9.2% to March 2024 calculation. 

The movement of people relocating into the UK this year has been slower compared with the previous two years, although it is showing signs of picking up. This change in activity may explain estate agent reports of lower volumes of tenants entering the market from February to April 2024, resulting in an increased availability of rental stock. One London agent recently reported that they had seen a 125% increase in the number of landlords lowering their asking rents. We do anticipate that this will change, as the summer months will likely bring with them an increase in people actively searching for rental accommodation.

Renters Reform Bill: The Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Lords on 15 May 2024. During the Second Reading, the pros and cons of the Renters Reform Bill were discussed at length. Any amendments will be reviewed at the next step, which is the Committee Stage.

Key topics discussed include Section 21 notice, which will be abolished for all new tenancies after the commencement date of the reform bill. As currently drafted, existing fixed term tenancies entered into before the main commencement date will convert into “new tenancies” when the fixed term expires. They are also exploring potential exemptions to the minimum six-month initial period, for cases where it is absolutely necessary for the tenant to end the tenancy early, where there are extenuating circumstances -,the criteria for this is under review.

Other topics covered under the bill and discussed include the Decent Homes Standard compulsory periodic tenancies, and the right for tenants to keep a pet.

Further progress is now on hold until after the UK elections, however Labour have confirmed that they have “no intention of holding up the Bill as it will put in place some provisions that will improve things for renters”.

On 1st May, British Columbia’s new legislation targeting short-term rental accommodation came into force. To date, no concessions or exemptions have been announced for the corporate housing sector. The legislation is designed to free up more than 16,000 units currently servicing short-term rentals and make them available for long-term and affordable housing requirements. There will be a 90-night minimum imposed on a portion of the current temporary accommodation options. However, some providers, with government registration, are permitted to continue providing 30-night stays. 

Numerous members of the corporate housing industry continue to lobby the Canadian government in the hopes they will understand the impact of the new legislation on short-term housing providers. If successful, all corporate housing providers can continue to offer 30-night minimum stays.

Federal and state authorities are reacting to a surge in foreign ownership of real estate and agricultural land, by advocating for enhanced regulations and monitoring measures. An increasing number of states have implemented laws to limit foreign individuals, entities and governments from acquiring or investing in American property. The extent to which newly enforced laws and regulations restrict foreign ownership varies significantly from state to state with no standardised framework yet emerging. At this time, no state has yet enforced an outright ban. 

House prices are declining, prompting many landlords to sell their properties. Consequently, many tenants are being forced to seek new accommodation. However, the premium rental market has been minimally affected by this trend. As a result, finding suitable rental housing remains challenging, as assignees must compete with Chinese individuals who are unable to purchase homes despite the falling prices. 

Returning expats, particularly inbound mainland Chinese professionals through the Top Talent Pass Scheme, are expected to increase demand for Hong Kong rentals next year. This will further reduce the already limited availability of three-bedroom serviced apartments. However, luxury apartment rents are expected to remain subdued due to seasonality, potentially resulting in a modest 5% increase.

Popular relocation destinations in Japan, particularly Tokyo, are currently experiencing acute property shortages, low rental supply, and increasing rental prices for both short and long-term accommodations. This issue is especially pronounced for large, serviced apartments (over 200 sqm) and family-sized apartments (four to five bedrooms) in luxury complexes. Two and three-bedroom apartments are also in extremely short supply. Conversely, the lower-budget rental market is facing less demand. 

The heightened demand for medium to high-end rentals is driven by competition from affluent Japanese natives, who are generally preferred by landlords as tenants; Japanese-speaking foreign nationals are also desirable. While luxury housing options are gradually becoming available, they command significantly higher rental prices, and the most sought-after units are often allocated through a sealed, competitive bidding process.

The availability of serviced apartments is diminishing, most notably in high-end locations such as Ascott, Somerset, and Oakwood. Similarly, three and four-bedroom properties are limited, with a greater supply found in lower-budget options. Nonetheless, rental prices in these segments remain relatively stable. For serviced apartments, it is highly advisable to book well in advance, ideally no later than one month before arrival.

The demand for furniture rentals is also high, necessitating early orders to ensure availability.

All of these factors have contributed to an average timeline of approximately two months from the beginning of the home search to moving into a property.

One-day home searches are becoming increasingly difficult to carry out in Australia due to the current housing market which remains highly competitive. A two-day search is now the minimum recommendation. 

Schooling options for assignees are expanding due to the growing number of international schools in major cities.

Hong Kong offers many excellent schools for expatriate families with a diverse offering of curriculums. These well-respected, globally recognised schools deliver a dynamic, reputable and multicultural education. However, the demand for places remains high, making the process of shortlisting, applying to, and securing a spot in these schools challenging. It is crucial to submit applications as early as possible to at least three schools to increase the chances of success. 

Top-tier schools such as HKIS, Kellett, CDNIS, GSIS, FIS, Chinese International School (CIS), ISF, ESF, and Harrow are all oversubscribed for the 2024/25 academic year.

As a result, many applicants have not made it through the first round of applications. This is because the demographic in these schools has changed over the past two years, as spaces vacated by families leaving in 2021 and 2022 were filled by students from other Hong Kong international schools and local students.

The school application process is becoming increasingly stringent, with limited availability. However, fees remain stable, ranging from $8,000 to $23,000 per year per child for international schools; there is no debenture system available. International schools prioritise applications from students of their own nationality. For applicants requiring learning support services, these are often poorly serviced by international schools.

It is rare for assignees to enrol their children in local schools due to the language barrier. Moreover, international schools are facing growing competition from local students, with some schools having a student body that is over fifty per cent local.

Private school fees have increased on average by 5.85% across the board in 2024.