40% of rental transactions took place in Belfast in the first half of this year, according to the latest Performance of the Rental Market in Northern Ireland report from the University of Ulster.
That's down on 45% in H2 of last year, but Belfast still dominates the Northern Ireland rental market.
Rental transactions across Belfast dropped across the board in H1; this could of course reflect a drop in demand (the removal of stamp duty for first-time buyers could be a contributing factor here).
It's not beyond the realms of possibility that supply could also have dropped. Over the past decade or so, the industry has seen a raft of new legislation, including the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the Landlord Registration Scheme.
Now of course, any effort to professionalise the sector (ie keep out the cowboys who damage its reputation!) will always be welcomed by me, however rules and regulations - as well as the additional costs involved to comply - do act as barriers to entry, so maybe there are fewer landlords in Belfast in 2017? I'll have a look into this for a possible future article.
The removal of tax relief on mortgage interest will also have hit many landlords, and perhaps caused some to pare back on new property investments.
It should, therefore, come as a relief (if not a huge surprise) to see rents performing broadly well across the city - still the huge variance by postcode we're used to, but on average they are up 1.8%. This would tend to suggest a drop in supply rather than demand.
With a swathe of slick new hotels reaching completion in the next year or two, demand for Belfast rentals will begin to push upwards - all those new teams of hotel staff will need somewhere to live...
This guide is particularly useful when used in conjunction with our Rental Yield Calculator Tool.
Source: University of Ulster Performance of the Private Rental Market in Northern Ireland summary research report