Cambridge has the highest demand for rented homes in the UK, new analysis suggests

Cambridge has the highest level of demand for rented homes in the most populated towns and cities in the UK, followed by Basingstoke and St Albans, new research has found.

Overall, the London commuter belt dominates the top 10 locations for high rental demand while Aberdeen has the least demand for rented homes, according to the analysis from lettings inventory and property compliance firm VeriSmart.

It looked at rental listings across the major property portals for the UK’s 100 most populated towns and cities and what ratio of these are already let to those available on the market.

It found that top of the ranking is Cambridge with 57% tenant demand making it the most sought after city for rental accommodation, followed by Basingstoke at 56%, St Albans at 53%, Milton Keynes at 49%, Crawley at 47% and Tamworth at 46%.

Bristol is the first city outside of a commutable range to London to make the top 10 at 45%, joined by York at 43%, Worthing at 43% and Hastings at 42%. In London, demand for rental accommodation may be high but in relation to the stock listed and the stock let, the capital ranks just 53rd for tenant demand when compared to the top 100 UK cities.

In London the highest level of demand is in Bromley at 41%, Sutton at 39%, Bexley at 38%, Havering and Richmond and Waltham Forest at 35%. Lewisham is the only inner borough to make the top 10 with demand at 33% along with Enfield, Kingston and Greenwich.

Prime central London is home to the capital’s lowest level of tenant demand with Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster both at 8%, the City of London at 12%, and Camden at 15%.

UK wide Aberdeen and Coventry are at the bottom with 8%, while demand is just 9% in Preston, 10% in Edinburgh, 11% in Dundee and Sunderland, 12% in Swansea, and 13% in Newcastle, Leeds and Gateshead.

‘While London will always remain attractive from a buy to let point of view, it’s clear that the current market slowdown and wider economic and political uncertainty has stretched to the rental sector,’ said founder of VeriSmart, Jonathan Senior.

‘It would seem many are still very much sat on the fence ahead of a Brexit solution and although London is home to some of the largest levels of stock, many are choosing to refrain from a commitment until stability returns,’ he pointed out.

‘This is most prevalent across the prime central market which is understandable given the larger financial commitments, however, the outer stretches of the city remain in good favour with the capital’s tenants for the time being. With further delays an almost certainty, this market limbo looks set to remain and London will continue to play second fiddle to the surrounding commuter belt and beyond while it does,’ he explained.

‘It will be interesting to see what impact the tenant fee ban has to the wider market when it arrives, although with the price of home ownership remaining out of reach for many, the UK rental sector should continue to see healthy levels of demand,’ he added.