Monthly rents on rise as first-time buyers hold off over Brexit doubts
Northern Ireland average monthly rents grew at the fastest rate of any UK region during July to reach £625, according to new figures.
And Brexit may be among the factors encouraging more and more people to rent their homes rather than buy, according to one estate agent.
The HomeLet Index for July said average monthly rents for homes in Northern Ireland were now £625, up 5.7% year on year from £589.
And there was growth of 2.4% on average rents in June of £610.
The next highest yearly rental increase was in Scotland, where rents were up 3.6% year on year to £630 a month.
And the UK average increase year on year was 1.1%, to reach £925.
Despite having the strongest percentage increase, Northern Ireland was among the five cheapest regions out of 12 in which to rent a house.
It tied for fifth-lowest with Yorkshire & Humber, while the north-east of England had the lowest rents at £526.
Only two regions experienced a fall in average rental values over the year - the south-east of England, where rents fell by 0.9% to £1,025, while the north-east of England experienced a decline of 1.7%.
Estate agent Richard McCulloch of McCulloch Estates, which deals in lettings and sales from offices in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, said rent increases were being experienced across Northern Ireland.
"It's basically down to supply and demand, as supply is very low but demand is high. We're seeing examples of typical first-time buyers choosing to rent instead of buying and will probably hold off buying until they see what happens post-Brexit and what the economy does.
"Renting gives the flexibility to move at short notice and continue to save for a deposit, so it's a preferred option for many people these days.
"I expect the rent rises to continue for the next year in the same way as this year for these reasons.
"Rents vary depending on the size of town and city and proximity to jobs and top schools, just like house prices do."
And while Northern Ireland's average is given as £625, prices vary dramatically in different parts of the province. Propertynews.com lists £500 rent for a three-bed house in Bessbrook outside Newry, and £475 for a three-bed home in Robert Street in Derry.
HomeLet chief executive Martin Totty said rents often strengthened over the summer as it marked the anniversary of many tenancies.