A report by Zoopla has illustrated a 4.6% increase in private renting prices in the UK.
Private sector rents in the UK were 4.6% higher in September than a year before at £968 per month on average, the strongest growth seen in 13 years. Even outside of London, rents were up by 6%, marking a 14-year high.
The report suggested that alongside the easing of lockdown restrictions and businesses re-opening in city centres, there has been a marked return to built-up areas following the mass outpour of people to the countryside seen at the beginning of the pandemic.
Rents in London are now also starting to increase as people return to the office, with the capital seeing prices increase by 1.6% annually, compared with falls of nearly 10% around the start of the year.
Although rents in local areas can fluctuate significantly from month to month, cities such as Bristol and Nottingham also saw the average tenants’ bill go up by more than 8% in the year to September.
Olivia, a 27-year-old PR executive tells Stylist that the rise in rent prices and increased competition prompted her decision to move back in with her parents in Northern Ireland.
“I currently rent a room in a three bed house with two other professional women. The last time I moved was in the summer and I was hoping that, with rumours of people moving out of London, rents would become a bit lower – but this definitely wasn’t the case,” she explains.
“The killer has really been the significant rise in energy bills over the past few months. I’m now paying over £110 per month for bills on top of rent at £787 per month, adding up to around £900. Once I’ve paid for food and travel, there really isn’t much left to save or do much else with at the end of the month.”
A couple of months ago, Olivia decided that the sky-high London rent was no longer worth it. “Before Covid, it used to be so much more fun with everyone working in the office – we could go for spontaneous drinks after work almost any day. There would also be cool cultural events happening all the time. But WFH culture and Covid mean there’s simply no point in paying London rent anymore if you can no longer take advantage of all that London has to offer.
“At the end of the day I thought, why am I forking out almost £800 per month on rent to go straight into someone else’s pocket? If I moved to another city, I could save up to buy myself a modern, spacious apartment that is all mine. This realisation made the decision really easy for me and now I can’t wait to go back to NI and get my own place.”
“Peoples’ biggest monthly bill is the cost of their housing – so news of rising rents will be a blow for any struggling renter, but particularly women on lower incomes,” Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, tells Stylist.
“Sky-high rents, rising food and fuel costs and the end of pandemic protections will leave many tenants having to choose between paying their rent or putting food on the table. Many thousands are at risk of losing the roof over their head in the tough months ahead.
“We need to get ahead of this crisis before it gets even worse – that means helping those struggling to pay their rent this winter. And beyond that, we need to build a new generation of decent social homes with fair rents that people can afford.”