Country rentals. Pressures favour flexibility
Increased demand has added to upward pressure on rents, but the package matters as much as the price, rewarding those able to be flexible.

Even in anticipation of lockdown, rural areas saw an influx of demand from city residents seeking country boltholes. Time was short, so they could not be price-sensitive. Post-lockdown, a similar surge occurred, though this time of people looking to move permanently to a more rural location, and to rent whilst finding a place to buy. Having, in many cases, agreed the sale of their current home and under pressure to agree a completion date, their time was short, too. They wanted to rent for a year at the very most (which is not always welcomed by landlords), but time pressures made them less price-sensitive (which is). Added to a background of rising general demand, this Covid-driven activity has pushed rents up, at least for the kind of houses most want. What kind is that?
In relation to lease, location and property, convenience and flexibility triumph over everything else. Tenants will pay for options to break early and to extend. They will of course pay for convenient locations, but the short walk to the town centre and train station now has to compete with the ability to walk directly from home into open countryside. Similarly, as ever, tenants want warm, high quality homes where everything works properly, but now they also value options such as being able to close off a private corner within those big, open plan living areas, and outdoor spaces suited to entertaining even on chilly autumn evenings.
Flexibility, though, works both ways: landlords are concerned about reduced legal rights coming on top of higher taxes and tighter, more expensive credit. Combined with rising capital values, this is persuading a few to sell. Most, though, are simply being more cautious about whom they accept. This makes tenants able to offer larger up-front payments highly attractive. This can make sense for tenants too, provided they have cash or can access low loan rates: the difference between rent paid monthly and paid six months, or even a year in advance, could appreciably exceed the cost of the loan. The security that such an arrangement brings to landlord and tenant alike, relieves pressures on both.