Smaller towns and cities are driving post pandemic rental demand

Property Reporter
10th May 2022
To Let 690

Sunderland has experienced the biggest increase in rental demand of all the main UK towns/cities, according to data from flatshare service, SpareRoom. Listings posted on the platform for rooms in Sunderland saw a 165% increase in demand since Q1 2020, with the average cost of a room also rising by 24% in just two years.

Interestingly, the majority of places with the biggest increase in demand are towns/smaller cities such as Swansea (147%), Smethwick (122%) and Barnsley (115%), whilst bigger cities, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Leeds - traditionally more popular with renters - saw less of a change.

Despite being one of the busiest cities in the world, change in rental demand in London is amongst the slowest in the UK, up just 11% since Q1 2020; however, the capital remains the most expensive location, setting renters back an average of £794 per month for a room.

As well as seeing the biggest increase in demand, Sunderland also experienced the biggest rent hikes over the last two years, with rents increasing 24% from £327 p/m to £406 p/m.

Other locations that saw rent increases above 20% include Bognor Regis (23%), Southall (22%) and Great Yarmouth (20%). Birmingham was the only location where average rents fell, with a room now averaging £421 p/m, 4% lower than in 2020 (£437 p/m).

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom Director, said: “Cities are often the most expensive places to rent, so as the cost of living rises and rents quickly follow suit, it’s no surprise people are looking for more affordable options. The pandemic and remote working have given people more flexibility and the data reflects that. London and the South East aren’t driving change in demand, as you might have expected pre-pandemic.

“If demand continues to grow across the country, and supply doesn’t start to catch up, we may well see record-high rents in the UK this summer. That won’t be welcome news for renters, especially with bills set to increase again in October.”

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