Rents up 1.5% in UK, but growth is slowing across the country

Rents in London fell by 0.5% in July compared to the same month in 2015 as growth in the lettings market in the city stalled, but they increased across the UK by 1.5%, the latest index shows.

However, a breakdown of the figures from the Countrywide Lettings Index shows that rental growth slowed across every region of the country and the drop in London was the first annual fall in rents for six years.

In July the average rent in the UK was £951 a month, up 1.5% on last year, but rising half as fast as in July 2015. Rents fell by 2% in Wales, by 1% in Scotland and by 1.1% in the South East of England but in the North of England and the Midlands, the rate of rental growth hit the highest level for two years.

The highest rents are in Central London at an average of £2,638, up 2.1% year on year, followed by Greater London at £1,280 and the South East at £1,173. In the East of England they are £963, up 3.8%, in the South West £856, up 3.3%, in the Midlands £703, up 4.8%, in the North of England £694, up 4.7%, in Scotland £689, down 1% and in Wales £671, down 2%%.

The report points out that while tenant demand has increased nationally, the volume of homes coming onto the rental market has slowed or in some cases reversed rental growth. In July there were 23% more homes available to rent in the UK than at the same time last year, while the capital saw a rise of a third. Some of this increase has been driven by purchases rushed through to beat the stamp duty deadline, however the number of homes available to rent has continued to rise in recent months, particularly in London and the South East.
An increase in the number of homes on the market has meant less deals are agreed above asking rents. In July 2015 16% of tenants paid over the asking rent to secure a home compared to 7% in July 2016. In London the fall was larger, 11% of homes let for more than the asking price in July, down from 32% in July 2015.
‘The large rise in numbers of homes available to rent has certainly slowed rental growth, even with tenant numbers increasing. Stock levels were already running higher than usual due to investors bringing forward purchases in the rush to beat the stamp duty deadline in April,’ said Johnny Morris, director of research at Countrywide.

‘Added to that, uncertainty in the sales market in the run up to, and after the European Union Referendum has caused more discretionary sellers to turn to the rental market. While rental price growth has slowed, current market dynamics are likely to accelerate the growth of renting.  It seems that with more stock and demand from tenants we will see the number of households renting increase in 2016,’ he added.