Will UK home rents go up?

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Rents in the UK rose by an average of 2.1 per cent during September, new data from HomeLet reveals, continuing the trend towards higher rents seen in recent months following a period in which rental price inflation was very low or even negative. The average rent agreed on a new tenancy signed last month was £927 according to the September HomeLet Rental Index, compared to £908 in the same month of last year.

September’s increase reflects higher rents agreed on tenancies in almost every area of the country, with only the South-East of England recording a negative rate of annual rental price inflation. The highest increases in rents were seen in Northern Ireland, where rental price inflation hit 4.3 per cent in September, followed by the West Midlands (3.9 per cent) and the East Midlands (3.7 per cent).

Rents also rose in London, for the second month running after a four-month period in which annual rental price inflation had slipped into the red. Rents in the capital were 1.9 per cent higher last month than in September 2016, with the average tenancy agreed in London last month costing £1,593.

Commenting on the research, HomeLet’s Chief Executive Officer, Martin Totty said: “While it is perhaps too early to conclude, this data signals the re-emergence of an upward trend in rents. It wouldn’t be surprising if landlords, seeing their own current and anticipated cost increases, seek to pass these costs on to tenants to preserve the returns from capital they have invested in residential property assets.”

“Landlords are facing a deluge of higher costs from new regulation, taxation changes on buy-to-let mortgages and the prospect of a near-term rise in interest rates. There’s also the added uncertainty over the fall-out from the government’s intention to ban letting agents from charging up-front fees to tenants.”

Martin Totty added: “In a sector where demand for rental properties generally outstrips supply, most informed commentators suggest higher externally imposed costs on landlords will inevitably translate into higher rents to tenants. This may prove to be the start of that upward movement, especially if tenants are left competing for fewer rental properties because some landlords decide the returns from property investment are being eroded by factors beyond their control.”

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