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'Rental hell' as tenants pay 8.9% more in the year to April

'Rental hell' as tenants pay 8.9% more in the year to April
Shekina Tuahene
Written By:
Shekina Tuahene
Posted:
22/05/2024
Updated:
22/05/2024

Average UK private rents rose 8.9% to £1,254 in the year to April 2024, down from the record high 9.2% annual growth in the previous month.

This was the first sign of slowing since December 2023, according to private rent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

In England, average rents rose by 8.9% to £1,293, while across Wales there was an 8.2% annual increase to £730. 

In Scotland, average rents increased by 10% to £952 while in Northern Ireland, there was a 10.4% uptick in the year to February. 

The annual growth in average rent prices across England, Wales and Scotland was lower than the figures recorded in March. In Northern Ireland, this was higher than the annual growth of 10.1% in January and the highest yearly rise since the series began in 2016. 

In England, rents inflation was highest in London at 10.% and lowest in the North East where there was a 5.8% rise annually. 

Across the UK, the highest average rent was recorded in Kensington and Chelsea at £3,356 and the lowest was in Dumfries and Galloway, where this came to £477 a month. 

‘Rental hell’

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said “we’re all stuck in rental hell” and “it’s easy to see why”.

Coles explained: “The number of new tenants has risen every month since the market reopened after lockdown. This is partly because houses are so unaffordable, so we rent far later in life. The other issue is that the number of households continues to grow, as the population increases and more people live alone, so there are simply more people who need somewhere to rent. 

“Meanwhile, the number of landlords has been falling relentlessly since summer 2022. They’ve been put off by everything from higher mortgage rates, to tougher taxes and more stringent rules around letting property. More tenants chasing fewer properties is always going to mean letting agents push prices up, and desperation means there’s always someone willing to pay more.”

She added that for those landlords who have stuck around, they’re facing rising costs which are ultimately passed onto tenants.

“As unjust as a massive rent hike may feel, in some cases it’s being demanded by a buy-to-let lender, who is charging a much higher interest rate, and insisting that the rental more than covers the cost.

“For house buyers, the fact we could see mortgage rates ease later in the year offers hope that property will become more affordable – even if prices continue to rise. For renters there’s no such hope. A slight slowing in runaway rents is welcome, but it’s not enough. It’s going to take something permanent and structural to change in the rental market before they can see light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

Related: Landlord exodus is ‘single biggest challenge renters face’