Belfast Telegraph

UK rents hit record high but steep rises set to ease in 2011

The cost of being a tenant in the UK rose to a record high during November as rents increased for the 10th consecutive month, research has shown.

The average UK rent jumped to £692 a month in November, the third month in a row during which it has reached a new high, according to lettings agent network LSL Property Services.

But the group said there were signs that the steep rises in rents may be coming to an end, with the latest growth of 0.1%, the smallest month-on-month increase since rents first began to rise in February.

Increases have already ended in several parts of the country, with the cost of renting a home dropping by 3.1% in the east of England and 2.4% in the East Midlands during November, while rents were 1.9% lower in the south east and 0.6% down in the north west.

Overall, the increase in the national average rent was largely driven by a 1.8% jump in London, where the cost of renting a property has soared by 9.2% during the past year.

David Newnes, estate agency managing director at LSL Property Services, said: "In the run-up to Christmas, we tend to see the rental market slowdown somewhat. Tenants prioritise Christmas spending over setting aside money for moving home.

"But with the limitations placed on the supply of rental property by the lack of mortgage finance, rents have continued to increase - even though the rental market's peak season is behind us.

"Nevertheless, rent increases have begun to slow in several regions, and we expect this trend to continue across the country in December and January."

But he added that the UK still faced a shortage of rental property, and rents could start rising again during 2011.

The typical landlord has made average gains of 7.3% on their property during the year to the end of November, the equivalent of £11,900, through a combination of rent and house price increases.

There was also a slight increase in the number of tenants who fell behind with their rent in November, with an estimated 9.7% of all UK rent, worth around £231m, going unpaid during the month, up from 9.3% or £221m in October.