The demand for rental homes remained high in 2019. Due to the successful (re)letting of our standing portfolio and newly-acquired properties, we were able to achieve an occupancy rate of 98.4% in 2019, compared with 97.5% in 2018. The like-for-like rental growth was 3.6%, which represents the solid growth of our portfolio.
In 2019, the former Delta Lloyd portfolio was managed by external real estate managers under the supervision of a Vesteda area manager. Vesteda will gradually phase in the external operational management in the first half year of 2020. This will allow Vesteda to have direct contact with these tenants and to improve the tenant satisfaction of this portfolio.
Affordable housing in the mid-rental segment remains an important topic in the public and political debate. We consider it our duty to take our responsibility in this respect, among other things by stimulating sufficient supply of high-quality mid-rental segment housing. Good examples of our contribution are the Amsteltower and Schinkelhof complexes in Amsterdam, where we offer affordable homes in a primary location. In addition to this, we once again voluntarily capped our annual average rent increase for the free rental segment to CPI plus 1.5%, just as we did in 2018 (CPI + 2%).
The annual benchmark survey and our weekly in-house research provide us with ample feedback and suggestions from our tenants to continue to optimise our services and processes.