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Private rents in NI up 4.7% to average £671 a month

Northern Ireland has seen the highest percentage increase in private home rentals over the last year to reach an average of £671 per month, according to a report.

The Homelet rental index said the 4.7% increase in Northern Ireland last month - compared to June 2018 - compared with a UK average increase of 1.8%.

Compared to May, Northern Ireland rents in June were also up 0.9%. And rents here were typically 26.4% of monthly income.

However, UK rents remained around 40% higher than in Northern Ireland, with an average of £941 per month, and rents typically 30.5% of monthly income.

When London is excluded, average monthly rents in the UK are £781, also an increase of 1.8% year on year. Of the 12 UK regions, the North East was the cheapest region for home rental, at £530, while greater London was the most expensive, at £1,611.

Westminster was the most expensive borough, with monthly rents of £2,534.

Thomas O'Doherty, a director at estate agents Simon Brien, said the increase reported in the Homelet Index reflected its experience of the rental market.

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He said that rents in Belfast had increased by around 20% over the last four years - and tenants had higher expectations about the quality of rented property.

"It really is symptomatic of young people in particular wanting quality rental properties in good central locations.

"If properties are in good condition, people will pay higher rents for them - it is demand-led.

"In addition, we don't have enough stock in locations that are popular.

"More people are also renting now than was the case 10 years ago, and people are putting off buying."

And he said the presence of multinational firms in Belfast, such as Allstate and Citibank, also increased demand for rental property. "Such companies are extending their staff and their workforce, and a lot of them will be renting for a period of time."