Corporates Cut U.K. Expat Rental Budgets on Brexit, Broker Says

Are you a high-powered employee moving to London from Frankfurt, Paris or Milan? Prepare to live in a small apartment in Battersea rather than a four-bedroom home in Chelsea.

For the first time, most companies are telling employees to consider one-bedroom apartments on the fringes of London’s best districts, instead of four-bedroom family homes in the center of the city. The firms are unwilling to move whole families because of the economic uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum, according to broker Douglas & Gordon.

Corporates are now typically targeting apartments priced from 650 pounds to 1,200 pounds ($843 to $1,556) a week for workers compared with the 1,500 pounds to 3,000 pounds a week charged for a four-bed home, the broker said. Some expats are being given the option of commuting home to see their families at the weekend if they go for the cheaper home.

The referendum result sparked speculation that big companies with overseas operations will move some of their U.K. workers to other European locations to keep them in the European Union. However, it won’t be one-way traffic. Douglas & Gordon had a 20 percent increase in inquiries in August from relocation brokers working on behalf of large international companies in London.

“Companies are still moving people into London. We’ve seen some interest from Americans, but it’s mainly Europeans –- French, Germans and Italians,” Virginia Skilbeck, lettings director at the broker, said in a statement. “If a property is priced correctly, then it will see the demand, but if it’s too expensive, then tenants have plenty of other properties to choose from.”

The broker said it had a record month for leasing properties in August, with revenue up 31 percent from a year earlier.