Cost of renting rises faster in Northern Ireland than in rest of UK: report
Rents on private homes in Northern Ireland have increased at the fastest rate in the UK over the last year - up 4.9% to a monthly average of £665, according to a report.
And there was also a strong increase of 4.1% compared to April, when average rents here were £639.
However, the average rent in Northern Ireland is still 14% lower than the UK average, according to the HomeLet Index published today.
But it's more expensive to rent a house here than in five other UK regions, including Scotland and Wales.
Across the UK, the average monthly rent was £934, up 1.6% on May 2018.
But when London is stripped out from the figures, the average rent in the UK is now £776, 14% dearer than in Northern Ireland.
Rents here are also more affordable, with the average rent costing 27% of average incomes compared to 30.5% across the UK as a whole. Greater London had the highest average rent per month, at £1,602.
But according to Propertynews.com, there are major regional variations in rental costs here. In east Belfast, a three-bed house in Wandsworth Place costs £775 per month. But an attractive three-bed house at Salters Bridge, Magherafelt, costs £600.
Estate agent Thomas O'Doherty of Simon Brien Residential says the market is buoyant here. "One of the reasons why rents are increasing is because tenants are demanding quality properties in central and convenient locations so landlords have to ensure that properties are kept to a good standard," he said.
"In the last four years we have found that rents have risen by 20% due to the strong demand for apartments in Belfast city centre or more suburban houses.
"Also with so many companies expanding their workforce in Belfast city centre, people are coming to Northern Ireland and renting first before they commit to buying.
"Not everyone is in a position to buy at the moment and we're seeing that younger people are renting for a few years before deciding on where they want to live."