Rental cost rises boost landlords
Belfast landlords have emerged as one of the main beneficiaries of the property market slump with rental costs on the rise over the last 12 months.
With continuing uncertainty about buying a house, more people are choosing to rent in the city, according to new research.
However, despite the average rent increasing from £564 to £571 over the year, Belfast remains a relatively cheap place to live, with prices almost half the average of those across the border in Dublin.
The survey by online letting company Citylets found that people renting in Dublin pay an average of £910 a month. In the UK, the average rate was £700 a month. In Edinburgh the cost is £769 while in London private renters pay more than £1,000 a month.
Prices for two-bedroom houses in Belfast, which account for the bulk of the property rented in the city, increased by 7.6% over the year from £432 to £465 a month, according to Citylets.
Citylets analyst Dan Cookson said: "Private landlords are benefiting from the current malaise in property prices because there are simply more people keen on renting. Those who would normally be looking to buy their first property after renting for a few years are waiting quite a bit longer, and the rental sector is benefiting from that."
The analyst said there appears to be little chance of a downturn in prices - at least in the short term.
"Like the residential market, the rental sector in and around Belfast is at its busiest between July and September, as tenants jockey to move before the summertime ends," said Mr Cookson. "As a result, we could see prices strengthen over the coming months, easing possibly towards the end of the year when things are traditionally much quieter."
Chris Smyth, partner at Ulster Property Sales' rental division, said Northern Ireland's rental market has never been busier.
"There are more people moving around than ever before and the market is responding to that," said Mr Smyth. "There is still good value and good supply. However, the gap between the top end of the market - good quality homes in high-demand areas - and the lower end, where the quality is lower in less attractive areas, is widening."