Rents increased by 1.2% in the UK in the year to April 2019

Rents in the UK’s private rented sector increased by 1.2% in the 12 months to April 2019, unchanged from March 2019, according to the latest official figures.

In England rents increased by 1.2%, in Wales by 1.1%, and in Scotland by 0.7%, the data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

The Northern Ireland annual growth rate remained broadly consistent around 2% throughout 2018. Northern Ireland data have been copied forward since December 2018. The next update to Northern Ireland data will be in the release on 19 June 2019.

The data also shows that in London rents increased by 0.5%, unchanged month on month. When London is excluded from England, privately rented properties increased by 1.6% in the 12 months to April 2019.

Growth in rents paid by tenants in the UK has generally slowed since the beginning of 2016, driven mainly by a slowdown in London over the same period, the index report says. Rental growth has started to pick up since the end of 2018, driven by strengthening growth in London.

Kate Davies, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), pointed out that given that landlords have now started to feel the effects of income tax changes in their most recent tax bills, it is perhaps surprising that stronger pressure to increase rental prices has not yet materialised.

‘The ONS figures have however had a slightly firmer tone since the Autumn, and this suggests that the pressure to increase rental prices may be mounting. It is also worth remembering that the ONS measure looks at continuing tenancies as well as new ones, with continuing tenancies less likely to experience rent increases,’ she explained.

‘Several surveys that only measure new lettings have recently reported that, following a protracted period of softness, average rents in London are once again increasing and have hit new records. As well as the capital, above-inflation increases in Scotland, the South West and the East Midlands have been noted by more than one data source,’ she said.

‘The IMLA continues to believe that weaker investment by landlords will affect rental availability and eventually result in higher rental costs, which will make saving for a deposit harder for tenants who are hoping to get on the housing ladder. We will continue to argue that no additional measures that risk further eroding the health of the Private Rental Sector should be introduced, and that the number of available rental properties does not decrease still further,’ she added.

While rental growth rates across the UK may have slowed, affordability issues remain prevalent across the sector, according to Tom Gatsen, co-founder of ideal flatmate.

‘With the wider market starting to pick back up, more consistent rates of rental growth are no doubt around the corner and the impending tenant fee ban is also expected to cause consequential rental increases,’ he said.

‘In addition to the tenant fee ban, changes to stamp duty thresholds and tax relief also reducing supply, it remains an uphill struggle for those priced out of the property market and stuck in the rental sector. Only time will tell as to the long term extent of these changes but it remains a tough place to be for those struggling with affordability issues,’ he added.