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Renting in the UK: prices have reached “the highest ever” as average rents increase amid the cost of living crisis

The latest data continues to paint a bleak picture for renters amid rising prices.

Amid the energy crisis and sharply rising cost of living, new data from Rightmove has shown that the average private rent has hit a record high, jumping by more than 20% in some parts of the country.

According to the property website, the average advertised rent outside London is 11.8% higher than a year ago, while in the capital it is up by 15.8%. 

During the period from 1 April to 30 June, the average advertised rent outside London hit another new record of £1,126 per calendar month. The figure is a 19% jump, equivalent to £177 more, in the two years since the pandemic started.

In London there was also a new record average advertised rent of £2,257, and the website said the 15.8% annual rate of growth was “the highest ever annual rate of any region”.

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In areas such as Manchester, Kent and Liverpool, rises of between 19.4% and 23.4% have been seen within the space of a year, as demand for rental properties greatly outstrips supply, leading to skyrocketing prices and intense competition among tenants.

Three seaside towns – Weymouth, Torquay and Margate – also saw above-average annual increases of 19.1%, 18% and 16.9% respectively.

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Rent is rising steeply across the UK

Earlier this year, real estate company Zoopla’s report on the UK rental market has found that the average renter is now paying nearly £1000 per month for their property. 

In 2021, rents rose to an average of £969, that’s a 12% average increase over the last five years.

As such, households who agree to new lets are now having to pay an additional average annual cost of £744, compared to the start of the pandemic in the UK in March 2020, indicating a staggering rise.

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Alongside rising prices, the demand for rental properties has also increased, and according to Zoopla’s research it was 76% higher in January compared to the new year market between 2018 and 2021.

But while more people may be looking for properties, those who are priced out of areas or who are unable to get on the property ladder as first-time buyers, could be experiencing a severe impact on their wellbeing.

A report published by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing suggests that these bleak housing prospects are damaging Gen Z and Millennials’ mental health and subsequently negatively affecting life choices.

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On average, renters are spending double on living or bills than people aged over 51, and it’s a double whammy as – compared to their parents – they have a lower earning potential at the equivalent stage in their career. Pandemic job insecurity, income lost from furlough and rising student debt all add financial pressure, on top of the cost of living squeezes.

As such, four out of five people worried about their future housing prospects say it is having an impact on major life decisions, such as having children.

As far as solutions go, the government says it is currently considering a number of plans to tackle the housing crisis, including cross-generation mortgages that can be passed on from homeowners to their children.

But with the cost of everything continuing to rise, will it be too little too late?

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