Housing

UK needs 120,000 new rental homes to cut record-high rents, Rightmove warns

The average advertised rent outside London is higher than ever before at £1,316 a month, according to Rightmove, with 120,000 fewer homes than are needed to meet demand

A sign reading 'For Rent'

A mismatch between the number of homes available to rent and the number of people looking for a home is one of the major reasons why rents have surged in recent years, according to Rightmove experts. Image: Chris Rober / Unsplash

An additional 120,000 homes are needed to fix Britain’s broken private rental market, Rightmove has warned, after revealing that advertised rents have hit new record highs.

The average rental price on the market has hit £1,316 a month outside London, rising 7% in the last year. In London renters can expect to see average rents of £2,652 a month advertised.

Although the pace of rental growth has slowed, a mismatch between supply and demand is preventing it from returning to what Rightmove called “normal growth” of around 2% per year – in line with the Bank of England’s inflation target.

The next government must accelerate housebuilding and incentivise landlords to invest in more homes to bring 120,000 rental homes on to the market and address the supply issue, according to Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert.

“We’ve been talking about the imbalance between supply and demand in the rental market for a long time now, so it’s easy to forget that there was a time before the pandemic where rental price growth was more stable,” said Bannister.

Double-digit yearly rent increases were not sustainable, and, while there has been some improvement in the ratio between supply and demand, price growth at 7% suggest we are still out of balance.”

The UK has been gripped by a rental crisis for some time but different parts of the country are affected in different ways.

Overall, the 7% rise in average advertised rents outside London is much lower than the peak of 12% two years ago but is still stretching renters’ pockets to the limit.

Despite much-higher prices than elsewhere, advertised rents in London are rising at a slower rate than almost everywhere in the UK at 4% above last year, down from an 18% surge in 2022.

That’s due to an improving supply and demand imbalance, according to Rightmove, with a 15% fall in the number of tenants looking to move to London and an 16% increase in properties on the English capital’s rental market.

The biggest imbalance between supply and demand is seen in Scotland.

Pro-landlord groups have long warned of an exodus of private landlords from the sector, citing tax changes, the failed introduction of the Renters Reform Bill and the promise of rent controls in Scotland.

However, this claim is disputed by pro-renter groups citing a lack of evidence of landlords leaving the sector so far. Meanwhile, Scottish renters union Living Rent have urged the Scottish government to deliver on its commitment to introduce robust rent controls and cap surging rents.

Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark, a group representing property agents, said: “Propertymark has long argued that the private rental sector needs more houses to stabilise rental prices, but there are a myriad of other factors that can contribute towards making the market more attractive for both investors and tenants.

“With a general election coming this week, Propertymark would like to see the next government reform the tax system so that more investors can be persuaded to invest in the private rental sector and lower rents for tenants in the long-term. Whilst we support a greater supply of houses, there has to be a sensible deliverable programme mindful of protecting the green belt wherever possible. It would also be wise for them to avoid rent controls which have had a devastating effect on the private rental sector in Scotland.”

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign our open letter to party leaders?

The Big Issue’s Blueprint for Change is calling on the new government to commit to building more affordable and social housing to help people out of poverty. An increase in the number of social rent homes is one of the ways to reduce the demand on the private rental sector. 

Our blueprint is also calling for the PM to protect renters by banning no-fault evictions after the previous government failed to deliver on its five-year-old promise to do so.

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? Get in touch and tell us moreBig Issue exists to give homeless and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy of the magazine or get the app from the App Store or Google Play

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