Inequality drives two speed rental market

September 2020 Lettings Index

Between the housing market re-opening for busines in May and the end of September, the total number of homes let across the country fell by 5.3% compared to the same period last year.  But this overarching number masks a far from uniform picture. 

In the most affluent areas of Great Britain 1.3% more homes were let between May and September than at the same point a year ago.  This in contrast to the the number of let properties in the 10% least affluent areas of the country, which over the same period, were down 14.8%.

And it’s a similar story for new instructions.  In the least affluent parts of the country, new rental instructions werer down 17.7% over May – September this year, compared to May – September last.  By contrast in the most affluent 10% areas of the country, the same year-on-year figure stood at 4.0% higher.  In fact by September, the number of lets in the wealthiest areas of the country was up by in excess of 20% compared with September 2019.

Only areas which are part of the least affluent 10% and 20% saw fewer lets agreed than at the same time last year, down 6.3% and 2.5% respectively in September.  These figures in the least affluent areas declined between July and August, unlike in the more affluent areas where the number of lets continued to rise.

Rental growth on newly let properties

Rental growth across Great Britain was flat in September, running at 0.0% with average rents on newly let properties at the same level as they were in September 2019.  However the number of regions recording rent falls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March has fallen to its lowest level.

Only London (-2.9%) and Wales (-0.1%) saw year-on-year rent falls in September, with every other region in England and Scotland recording rental growth.  Rents in the South East and East of England returned to growth in September, having recorded falls in each of the last three months. 

While London as a whole has seen rents fall in every month between March and September, these falls have been predominantly driven by Inner London.  However September marked the first month since March when rents in Outer London returned to growth, rising 0.2% year-on-year. Despite this rise, there is no sign yet of a recovery in Inner London where rents fell 14.1% in September compared to the same time last year.