Renters on the move in East Sussex face huge challenge to find property

20th October

Property to let

During the last few months, the housing market has been one of the many things that have seen unpredictable change during the lockdown and coronavirus period, particularly with lettings. Many estate agents are urgently looking for properties to let out and to sell while, in contrast, the demand for people wanting to rent or buy is extremely high.

Vicky Smith, Lettings Manager at Samuel and Son, explains: “We can assume that these changes are for a few reasons, first and foremost that the shortage of properties is due to people not wanting to leave their idyllic countryside homes. Those that would perhaps rent out their property to live abroad for a few years or work elsewhere are now staying put, particularly if those properties are set in beautiful East Sussex countryside with lots of outside space.

“Additionally, those that are looking to sell and move away are instead choosing to rent once they have sold their house to put them in a better position in the market and due to the coronavirus guidelines in place. This takes some pressure off the process, meaning that they are in a better position to find their dream home.”

However, despite this shortage of properties on the rental market, there is currently a huge demand of people wanting to rent. Vicky says that coronavirus and lockdown have made everyone rethink their perspective on life and moving out of large towns and cities to the countryside with outside space has never been more appealing.

“There is also much less of a need to be within commuting distance from London and a greater need to have a lovely space where one can work from home. Increasing numbers of people realise that they can in fact work from the comfort of their own back garden,” Vicky added.

There are reports that landlords are selling property to take advantage of the ‘stamp duty holiday’ which is also reducing private rental housing stock at this time. Some homeowners who would not normally rent are also selling quickly and moving into rented property due to the ‘Stamp Duty Holiday’. Meanwhile the previous ban on moving having been lifted has caused those needing to find new rental property to enter the market at a hugely pressured time.

Tips from an experienced renter for those hunting for a place to live

1.         Set an alert on all portals such as Rightmove and on the market to notify you of properties in the area you are looking. Scan latest properties available manually several times a day as well, as agents are uploading homes all the time

2.         Call the agent immediately you see something suitable. Try to be the first one to view and express your interest immediately. The current market means that most properties have more than one suitable applicant, so it is highly competitive. Be prepared to pay around the equivalent of one weeks rent holding deposit to reserve a property.

3.         Register with lettings agents – but it is better to be proactive.

4.         Try to line up as many properties to see as possible as this gives you a higher chance of securing one.

5.         Make sure you have all of the financial information needed for the credit check and ensure you are accurate with information as you can risk losing a holding deposit if you have not been.

6.         Post in local Facebook Community groups as sometimes people are happy the let their properties privately. Check Facebook Market Place.

7.         Ask your friends – you never know who they know

8.         Double check restrictions – for example if you have pets, check with the agent before you arrange to see a property. You can always try to negotiate, but that won’t always work.

9.         Check to see if the property is professionally managed. This usually means a better service for the renter.

10.       If you can, offer six months’ rent up front – this is a last resort

A local woman who has just secured a property told The Heathfield News: “Our recent hunt for a property was extremely fraught. The property we had signed a lease on was sold ahead of us moving in, which left us nowhere to go as the Landlord refused to let us move in. As soon as I spotted something suitable, if I didn’t act really fast it would be let before I could see it. Trying to get in quick was definitely the way to go. In one case the property went to someone else who offered more rent and to pay six months up front!”

Tenants renting in the private sector who are concerned about their landlord seeking to take possession action, or who have been served a notice which may result in them being made homeless, should contact Wealden’s Housing Options Team on 01323 443322 or via email at

Wealden District Council is urging its 3,000 council house tenants to get in contact if they are unable to pay their rent, or are getting into arears. Private tenants concerned that they could face eviction should also contact the Council.

Samuel and Son won the British Property Awards 20/21 the best letting agents in the Heathfield area 20/21.

You can contact Vicky Smith, Lettings Manager for Samuel and Son on 01435 810077  or E-mail:

Other estate agents in the area include Rowland Gorringe whose Lewes office deals with lettings.