Rents have gone up by 12 per cent in the past year

Sharp and fast rises are spreading outside the capital

Jon Stone
Tuesday 11 August 2015 10:09 BST
Fast rises are now spreading to the rest of the UK
Fast rises are now spreading to the rest of the UK

Landlords have increased rents by nearly 12 per cent over the last year, according to an index of housing costs.

The average rent for new tenancies in the three months to July 2015 was £977 – 11.8 per cent higher than the same period last year.

The figures, from the HomeLet rental index, show that rents are still dramatically outstripping wage growth in the UK.

Even more rent rises could be ahead for tenants after an academic study commissioned by councils found that the Government’s policy of selling off council properties would drive rents up again.

The lack of council housing caused by such a sell-off would in turn would lead to increased pressure on privately rented homes, the researchers from Liverpool Economics found.

According to an earlier survey by the firm Rentify some landlords separately hope to raise rents even further to make up profits from cuts to tax breaks.

The breakdown of the latest figures from the HomeLet index suggest that sharply rising rents are spreading from being purely a London phenomenon to the rest of the country.

“The July HomeLet Rental Index demonstrates just how broad-based the rise in rent prices has now become – this is a UK wide trend,” said Martin Totty, CEO of the Barbon Insurance Group, the parent company of HomeLet.

“Regions which have long been associated with a buoyant rentals sector, such as London, continue to experience rising prices, but rents are also rising in many other parts of the country at similar rates.”

He noted that the South West of England was showing a particularly sharp rise in rents on the back of people attracted to the area for “lifestyle reasons”.

The rent rise revelation comes amid a discussion amongst candidates for the Labour leadership about how best to deal with soaring rents.

Andy Burnham last month told a hustings event that he would support rent controls and allow councils to borrow to build more homes.

“I would favour rent controls, I would because I think we have a dysfunctional housing market. I think the question is right that this is a huge cost that is really making a number of people, particularly in London struggle,” he argued.

Jeremy Corbyn has previously said the lack of such rules was leading to the “social cleansing” of parts of inner London.

“In the absence of rent control all that’s happening in central London is that families who access benefits to pay their rent cannot get enough money to pay their rent,” he argued in his justification for voting against Conservative welfare cuts.

Labour's current shadow chancellor Chris Leslie, a landlord himself, however argued that Labour should resist "the temptation to control and run what’s going on in a particular market" with regard to housing.

Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, two other candidates for the leadership of the party, have not publicised their positions on reducing housing costs or rent controls.

A poll released last night by YouGov/The Times found Mr Corbyn with a significant lead and set to win the contest.

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