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

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, Security Cleared

£100 - £110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Ham...

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Junior Developer- CSS, HMTL, Bootstrap

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Junior Web Developer- CSS, HMTL

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading company within the healthcare ...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz