Rents in England and Wales reach new record level

Rents across England and Wales reached the highest level on record between August and September in a trend increasingly divergent from the wider rate of consumer price inflation, new data shows.

Average rents now stand at a new record of £816 per month, after rising by 1.6% month on month and 6.3% year on year, according to the latest buy to let index from Your Move and Reeds Rains.

Trends in the private rented sector are increasingly divergent from the official measure of wider inflation. According to the Office for National Statistics consumer prices are by contrast now 0.1% lower than in September 2014.
On a cumulative basis the difference with inflation is starker, the index report shows. Rents are now 24.4% higher than in January 2010, while the index of CPI inflation is just 14.1% higher over the same period. This means rents have risen by 10.3% in real terms since the start of the decade.
‘Rents are rising strongly in real terms due to the recent acceleration in wages, and the much deeper and longer term shortage of available properties across the UK of all tenures,’ said Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Reeds Rains and Your Move.

‘Meanwhile, as the price of everyday essentials plateaus and even falls, rents are no longer following the same broad trends. The cost of a place to live has now uncoupled from the cost of living. As long as this supply and demand imbalance keeps up, it is hard to see any reversal in the speed of rent rises,’ he explained.
‘In many ways housing is more essential than other expenses, so this also raises important questions about the nature of inflation. In this case, reform of the UK housing market and planning system is the only serious way to maintain steadier rental inflation,’ he added.
The data also shows that five out of 10 regions of England and Wales have also seen individual rent records in September. Rents in London are rising most rapidly, up 11.6% on an annual basis to a new record of £1,301 per month. The annual change in London has also overtaken the East of England, where rents are now rising marginally more slowly, yet are still up 8.8% over the last 12 months.
Record rents in the East Midlands are now 6.7% higher than a year ago, at £603 per month, while the West Midlands has seen its own record of £592 per month, or 5.2% higher than in September 2014.
Meanwhile, South Western rents have risen at a comparable annual rate of 5.5% to stand at a fresh local record of £691 per month. The final region to see a local record, rents in the South East now average £831 per month, but have risen more slowly, by 3.6% since September 2014.
‘We are in the middle of the busiest time of year in the rental market. September and October are especially important given the student rental market in the autumn and the echoes of the academic year as those in their twenties start new jobs. When rents hit a fresh record, it is more likely to happen at this time of year. Yet in 2015 that seasonal trend has been blown out of the water by an unprecedented acceleration,’ Gill pointed out.
‘Rents have been growing faster than ever, particularly in real terms given inflation has essentially been zero since February. Across the country, towns and cities are seeing demand from local tenants outstrip the supply of properties to let, with inevitable effects on rents. There is little sign yet of this cooling substantially as the autumn progresses,’ he added.

The index also shows that gross yield on a typical rental property in England and Wales, before taking into account factors such as void periods, has risen to 5.2% in September, up from 5.1% in August 2015. This is also higher than the 5.1% gross yield seen a year ago in September 2014.