Covid-19 Kills Lust for City Living

Renters are quitting London, latest figures reveal, and heading for the regions, Wales and Scotland in search of more space and bigger homes and gardens in suburban and rural areas, spurred by the misery of anti-COVID-19 measures.

Property search engine Home.co.uk has released an in-depth analysis of the rapidly morphing UK rental market, detailing supply changes, time on market and rent changes.

The study found a dramatic increase of more than two thirds (68%) in the monthly supply of homes to rent in the capital region compared to a year ago, as tenants fail to renew tenancies. Moreover, the Typical Time on Market (29 days) in the capital is now the highest of all regions, as landlords struggle to find tenants keen on city living.

Asking rents have been slashed across London due to a lack of demand in the wake of the first COVID lockdown. The current average rent in Greater London remains a hefty £2,127 a month, but this is down a massive 11.2% over the year. The bulk of this fall (10.5%) occurred in the last six months following the imposition of lockdown measures.

In the worst-hit boroughs, landlords have dropped their rents by more than double the London-wide average fall in rental value. Over the last year rents have fallen in the City of London by 28.8%, in Hammersmith and Fulham by 23.5% and in Kensington and Chelsea by 22.5%.

Meanwhile, in the low-density leafy suburbs of the capital, rents are rising. In Bexley, Havering and Croydon rents are up 4.2%, 4.6% and 6.7% respectively.

Greater London is the only English region to see rents fall over the last year and to see the Typical Time on Market figure rise. It takes on average four more days to find a tenant in London than 12 months ago.

The South West is among key destinations for renters in the capital to move to in search of space and greenery, the figures indicate.

Rents in the South West have rocketed by 8.3% over the year to their current average of £1,065. Most of this rise (7.9%) came in the last six months, amid the pandemic. In addition, landlords in the South West are finding tenants far quicker than last year. The Typical Time on Market is just 13 days, four days fewer than last year's average.

Central to the migration from the UK's largest city is the desire for more affordable accommodation, more space and ideally a garden. Fear of further lockdowns coupled with the ability to work from home (and to save money on commuting costs) is redefining the nature of demand from UK renters. Clearly, former London tenants have no wish to repeat the misery of being prisoners in their own homes.

East Anglia is another popular destination, rental and Typical Time on Market figures suggest. Rents in the region have risen by 6.3% over the last six months and by 7% over the year to £1,135. Meanwhile, the Typical Time on Market figure is 19 days which is four days fewer than in November last year.

Similar trends present themselves elsewhere in England, with competition for the limited numbers of available lettings stock pushing up rents: by 9.5% in the East Midlands; 6.7% in the North East; 11% in the North West; 14.7% in the West Midlands; and 8% in Yorkshire and Humber over the last twelve months. However, less demand in the relatively pricey South East has meant that rents have risen only 1.4%, Home.co.uk's analysis found.

Wales has seen the largest increase in rents over the last year, up by a dramatic 22.3%. The average rent in the principality is now £894 and the Typical Time on Market figure is 15 days, three days fewer than last year.

In Scotland, the average rent is £857, an increase of 15.8% year-on-year. The Typical Time on Market has been slashed by four days to 20 over the last year.

Director Doug Shephard said: "While homeworking is not an option for all, this lifestyle change is now a key trend that is reshaping rental demand. Since the Greater London rental market represents nearly half of the UK lettings market, any refocusing of demand towards the regions will have a dramatic effect on the balance of supply and demand. This is why we are witnessing dramatic rent hikes in most English regions, Scotland and Wales. In fact, Welsh rents (and home prices for that matter) are rising to such an extent that locals fear of being priced out by newcomers. Wales will certainly not be alone in feeling the knock-on effect of the exodus from the UK's largest cities."

Notes for Editors

Over the last 28 years, Home.co.uk has become established as a dynamic, innovative and ethical service. By providing the UK's most comprehensive Property Search and Estate Agents directory coupled with detailed House Price analysis, Home.co.uk delivers the real power of the Internet to inform and empower estate agents, homebuyers, renters, landlords and sellers in across the UK.

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