The average cost of a newly let property in the UK rose to £1,041 ($1374) per month in October, a rise of 1.4% on the same month a year ago, and the first annual increase since the pandemic began in March this year.
Rural demand drove the rental growth in comparison to places to rent in the cities, the Hamptons International Monthly Lettings Index showed.
The average cost of a newly let property in the countryside rose to £919pcm in October, up 5.5% year-on-year compared with the same period last year. This was more than triple the national average. In comparison, rents in cities fell by 5.3% year-on-year to £1,336 per month.
This was due to a shift in tenant demand on the back of the health crisis as more renters looked to live in the country rather than cities. As a result, there were 29% more homes available to rent in cities and 48% fewer to rent in the country during October than at the same time last year.
This shift in demand has also changed landlords’ ability to increase tenants rent. Nearly half (48%) of landlords letting a home in the countryside were able to increase the rent when reletting their buy-to-let last month.
Rental growth accelerated across Great Britain in all regions apart from London, which fell 0.6% and Wales, which was down 0.4%.
Rent in London fell for the eighth consecutive month in October as the gap between rental growth in inner (-14.9%) and outer (3.3%) London widened to the largest differential on record.
The biggest rental growth was seen in the North of England and the South West where rents rose 5.9% year-on-year last month. Rents in the North reached a record high of £689 per calendar month.
Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “The flexibility of the rental market has meant that while some renters have decided to make a permanent move out of cities in search of more space, others have moved out temporarily.
“The opportunity to work from home means tenants can save while paying less rent in more rural areas. As a result, the gap between rents in cities and the countryside is closing.”
It comes as half of the UK public say a lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest issues facing the country, according to a new survey.
The housing crisis remains high up on the public agenda even as many other challenges have hit households and dominated the headlines, including the health, social and economic impact of the coronavirus.
A poll of 2,000 adults, shared exclusively with Yahoo Finance UK, shows 62% agreed housing policy was an “important issue that has been neglected by successive governments.”
51% said the housing crisis was “one of the biggest issues affecting the UK.” Over-55s were the most likely to agree, despite being far more likely to own their own homes than younger generations.
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