Private Rents in UK Cities Fall by up to 12%

A pandemic-fuelled migration from city centres has lowered rents and dramatically increased available properties.

Private rents in some of the UK’s largest city centres have fallen drastically in the wake of a post-pandemic exodus from major urban areas, according to new data from online estate agent Rightmove.

Rightmove’s latest rental trends report, released on Wednesday, showed that inner-city rents dropped by as much as 12% in Q4 2020 as tenants fled to the suburbs. Inner London was the hardest hit, with annual asking rents falling by 12.4% on average in the three months to 31 December.

Edinburgh city centre and Manchester city centre followed close behind London, their average rents falling by 10% and 5.3% respectively.

Further, all ten of the UK’s biggest city centres saw an uptick in the number of inner-city residents enquiring about properties outside their area. 53% of renters in Inner London asked about properties outside the city centre during Q4, up from 45% in 2019, while central Edinburgh’s proportion rose to 37% from 29%.

As a result of this migration, there has been a significant increase in properties available for rent in city centres. Vacant properties available in Leeds, Inner London and Nottingham have more than doubled.

“There’s no doubt that higher rents will return once life goes back to some form of normality,” said Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, “but it will be the city centre properties with gardens and balconies that will be able to command the biggest premiums.”

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves in London, said that the pandemic had reduced tenants’ willingness to commit to the high cost of renting in central London and other urban areas.

“At present, the vast majority of the capital remains closed for business,” he noted. “As a result, demand has fallen dramatically causing rental stock to flood the market. This excess level of stock means that landlords are being forced to accept dramatically lower levels of rent just to avoid lengthy void periods between tenancies.”

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