Lockdown Rents Rise as Tenant Demand Evaporates

Lockdown buy-to-let rents have continued to grow on trend, according to the latest official figures.

Private renters saw the cost of a new home rise by 1.5% in the year to the end of April and 1.4% between March and April 2020, says the Office of National Statistics.

 In the monthly rent index report, the ONS notes rents increased 1.5% nationally year-on-year. With London figures excluded, the annual rise was 1.6%. The rise was 1.5% in England, 1% in Wales and 0.7% in Scotland. 

London lagged the rest of England with a 1.3% increase. Between January 2015, when the index started, and April 2020, average UK rents have grown by 9%. 

Regionally, the most significant annual rent increase was in the South West, where tenants paid 2.6% more in April than they did a year earlier. Not far behind were the East Midlands, where rents were up 2.4% year-on-year. 

Other regions beating the UK average rent rise were Yorkshire & Humberside, where they rose 2%, the East of England with a 1.8% increase and the West Midlands with a 1.7% improvement. 

The lowest increase was in the North East, where landlords saw rents rise 0.7%, followed by the North West, where they were up 0.9%. 

The ONS notes a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors that predicts a sharp fall in house prices, rents, and house sales over the summer. 

The research shows declining tenant demand matched by a fall in the number of new rental homes coming to the market. Letting agents said they expected the buy-to-let market to level within 12 months, with rental growth at around 2.5% a month. Both reports are based on data collected before the reopening of the housing market. 

Read the RICS property market report.

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Investing in a private rented property can be achieved in a variety of ways. Sometimes landlords inherit a property that they then turn over to renting. Sometimes owners of properties become unintentional landlords because they are unable or unwilling to sell a property at the value the market currently dictates.