Boris bikes fuel rising prices in London rental market, says lettings agency

Research shows soaring demand - and rents - in previously unfashionable areas as bike hire puts tube stations within reach

A London lettings agency says that London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme is transforming the residential rental market in areas previously viewed as off-limits by prospective tenants due to their distance from the tube and other public transport – and that streets that have a docking station are in particularly high demand.

According to Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings, in some places what would have been a half-hour walk to the nearest Underground station has been slashed to five minutes by Boris Bike, making such areas attractive to renters looking for cheaper places to rent.

That price differential may not last for long, however, with the firm’s research showing that while rental returns across the city as a whole have gone up five per cent since the scheme was launched in July 2010, “dramatic increases” have been seen in places that are at least a ten-minute walk from a London Underground or Overground station and that are served by the scheme.

It’s a phenomenon that the company says is happening across the capital where the scheme operates, and it gives examples of some of the rises, including in boroughs the scheme has come to more recently - Tower Hamlets and Hackney in 2012, and Hammersmith & Fulham last year.

Sand’s End in Fulham has seen rental returns grow by 25 per cent, followed by Walworth in South London at 22 per cent, Olympia in West London with 20 per cent, Haggerston in Hackney at 16 per cent, and Cubitt Town in East London, where growth has been 12 per cent.

The agency’s lettings director, Marc von Grundherr, said: “As the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme has expanded outside of central London and into areas that are a lengthy walk from the Tube, we have seen a dramatic increase in tenant enquiries for those areas.

“Tenants realise that they can simply ride a Boris Bike down to the station for little or no money at all and do not have to worry about whether their bike is secure.

“Tenants also tell us that while they would be unlikely to cycle all the way to work, either because their workplace is too far away or because they do not want to arrive sweaty and red faced, a leisurely cycle down to a nearby Tube station presents no problem.

“In light of our research, it’s a good reason for investors into London to thank Boris Johnson for setting this up – well done Boris!”

He told the Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall that the idea to conduct the research, which involved looking at details of some 200 properties, came to him after prospective tenants began asking for properties in streets with docking stations.

“Over the space of two or three months, I had a couple of tenants saying I don’t want to rent in that street, I want to rent in this street,” he explained.

“They said it’s because there is a bank of bikes next to the property. I started to think whether there was a correlation between the bikes going in and price increases.”

Nick Alworth, TfL’s general manager of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, said: “We have always known that Barclays Cycle Hire would bring a range of benefits to London, so it’s nice to see some of these further confirmed by this latest research.

“Since the scheme opened in July 2010, the popular and now iconic bikes have helped change the way people make short journeys across London. More than eight million hires were carried out last year and we expect many millions more to be made during 2014.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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