Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland housing rents still among cheapest in UK despite rise

By Lisa Smyth

The cost of renting a home in Northern Ireland has risen by almost 5% to £623 over the last year,  according to statistics released today.

However, it remains £150 less than the average rental rate in the rest of the UK.

Northern Ireland had one of the lowest rates of monthly rents, according to figures for the three months to July, with only landlords in Wales and the North East of England faring worse at £622 and £537 respectively.

However, the survey by HomeLet found that Northern Ireland has experienced one of the biggest increases in monthly rent since last July, with a rise of 4.7% from £595.

Some regions have seen the monthly rent drop as much as 5% in the last 12 months.

The index provides up-to-date data on new tenancies in the UK.

As part of the referencing process for around 350,000 prospective tenants each year, HomeLet processes information including the rental amounts agreed, the number of tenants moving into the property, together with the employment status, income and age of all tenants.

The trends reported within the HomeLet Rental Index are brand new tenancies which were arranged in the most recent period, giving the most relevant insight into changes in the private rented sector.

The data suggests that landlords have been able to continue securing higher rents on new tenancies despite the economic uncertainties created by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June.

It mirrors data from the housing market, with mortgage lenders also reporting modest growth in house prices in the month following the Brexit vote.

Although it is believed it is still too early to measure the long-term impact of Brexit.

Chris Smyth, director of the rental division at UPS, said he believed the controversial EU vote may have contributed to a strong rental market in Northern Ireland last month.

“The rental market is definitely healthy, in fact we had the best July this year that we have had in years,” he said.

“July is often a bit quieter and unpredictable, but this July was definitely a busy month for us.

“I think that perhaps that had something to do with Brexit because if you have any kind of financial uncertainty, people can be a bit more reluctant to buy.

“In saying that, we also had steady sales in July as well.”

He added: “It is very much a landlord’s market at the moment.

“For example, the other week we had a two-bedroom apartment at the Embankment in Belfast and we had more than 50 people wanting to view it.

“If you have a good property that is high spec, perhaps with a nice plasma television and is well decorated and furnished, then you can ask for maybe £50 or £100 more a month.

“You also have the choice of tenant.”

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