A cultural revolution boosts rental market

An influx of workers from the new EU nations has been a godsend for the sluggish London market. By Chris Partridge

Russians and citizens from the Baltic states have congregated in Stratford, where several new delis and shops have sprung up to meet their needs, reports estate agent Richard Everitt of Winkworth. Many have come to fill the jobs Londoners no longer want, such as cleaning offices, or in the building trade. Some aim to stay for good, renting flats for themselves and their families while they retrain.

"They are all qualified in their own countries," Everitt says. "One of our tenants is a qualified doctor working as a painter and decorator while he takes the seven exams he needs to pass to practice medicine here."

Stratford became popular because of cheap rents and good transport links to jobs in the City and Canary Wharf, but the success of the Olympic bid has already pushed prices up. It is too early to see if residential rents will go up as construction starts, but costs for premises such as the shops and restaurants that serve the Eastern European community have already gone up, Everitt says.

It is possible that the enclave in Stratford may be forced out even before it has become established. If the migrants move en masse, they will probably go further out, or possibly south to New Cross or Deptford.

If the area round your buy-to-let property has an influx of a specific nationality or culture, it pays to ensure that the property meets their special requirements. For example, orthodox Jews need two sinks and two fridges for kosher food preparation, and Muslims like to have two large reception rooms so men and women can meet separately.

The other issue for a landlord in catering for new arrivals is the difficulty of getting references. "Foreign tenants have to have been here for three years before they can get a rent guarantee, so we usually ask for three to six months' rent up front, especially if they have no references outside work," Everitt says.

Rent-protection insurance is also available from such companies as Letsure (www.letsure.co.uk), which also have services that find out as much as possible about a new tenant before handing over the keys. This does not come cheap, at around 3.5 per cent of the monthly rent, but investors using borrowed money may start to lose serious sums if the rent stops and costly legal action is necessary to recover the property.

Another issue is the practice of tenants sleeping up to four to a bedroom to save on rent. This overcrowding may have implications for wear and tear, and is difficult to monitor.

In north London, the borders of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill have seen an influx of Poles since that country's accession to the EU. Long-term Stoke Newington resident Mark Olbrys of Cluttons is himself half-Polish and suddenly finds himself surrounded by his father's compatriots. "Poles are moving massively into what was traditionally a Jewish and Greek Cypriot area," he says. The large number of substantial family homes is the draw in the area.

There has been an enclave of Poles in exile in Kensington since the Second World War, when former soldiers and RAF pilots found it impossible to return when the Red Army moved in to their homeland. They gathered round clubs such as the Polish Air Force Association in Collingham Gardens and the ineffable Daquise restaurant next to South Ken station.

The invisible immigrants are the Czechs, according to David Frous of the Embassy of the Czech Republic. "It is not a great part of the Czech nature to gather in close communities," he says. "We try to merge into the environment."

That said, there are long-standing concentrations of Czechs in Hammersmith and Hampstead. The Czechoslovak National House (actually a pub and restaurant) in West End Lane, Hampstead, has been a magnet for homesick Czechs (and Slovaks) since the Second World War, Frous says.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Property search
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities