Private rents in Britain rose at record rate in past year, figures show

Low levels of buy-to-let activity have sent rents higher in the UK, according to a Hamptons report.

Private rents in Britain are rising at a record rate, research has found, jumping 14% in a year in London and by more than 19% in hotspots such as Manchester, piling yet more pressure on already strained household budgets.

The average advertised rent outside London is 10.8% higher than a year ago as tenants grappled with “the most competitive rental market ever recorded”, said the property website Rightmove.

This is the first time the average annual growth outside the capital has exceeded 10%, increasing average rent to a record £1,088 a month – up from £982 a year ago.

In London, which temporarily fell out of favour with renters earlier on in the pandemic, the average asking rent hit a record £2,193 a month – up 14.3%, or £274, on a year ago. Rightmove said this was “the biggest annual jump of any region since records began”.

The property site said demand was greatly exceeding supply, with prospective tenants outnumbering available rental properties by more than three to one.

This has been blamed on a number of factors, some pandemic-related, with many tenants continuing to re-evaluate what they want from a home and how close they need to live to work. Rightmove said it was also hearing from agents and landlords that tenants were signing longer leases, which was preventing some of the stock that would normally come back on to the market from doing so.

Soaring house prices have meant many would-be homebuyers have had to stay in rented accommodation for longer, while many landlords who were originally attracted by the buy-to-let boom have in recent years hiked rents or quit the market owing to regulatory and tax changes.

Overall, average rents are now 15% higher than during the same period two years ago, just as the pandemic started. The hikes coincide with higher energy bills and other living costs.

The website named a number of rental hotspots, with Swansea in south Wales topping the table with a 19.7% annual rise in typical asking rents. Manchester was close behind, with a 19.3% increase, the average monthly rent up from £894 to £1,067 in a year. Liverpool was another hotspot, with a 17.1% annual rise. Others included Margate in Kent (18.8%), Grantham in Lincolnshire (14.6%) and Cardiff (14.5%).

The figures came a day after a report from an influential committee of MPs said more than one in eight privately rented homes in England posed a serious threat to people’s health and safety.

An estimated 11 million people rent privately in England , and the sector has doubled in size during the past 20 years.

Separately, the Office for National Statistics published data that showed average UK house prices increased by 10.9% over the 12 months to February – up from 10.2% in the year to January. That lifted the typical price to £277,000 – about £27,000 higher than a year earlier.