UK rental growth slumps to 30-month low: Zoopla

Despite the fall in rental growth, demand remains high with 15 prospective tenants on average competing for every property.

Related topics:  Landlords,  Property,  Rental Growth
Property | Reporter
7th June 2024
To Let 855
"Rental demand continues to run well ahead of available supply which is keeping the upward pressure on rents but there are some areas where rental growth has stalled"
- Richard Donnell - Zoopla

UK rental growth has slowed to +6.6%, according to Zoopla's latest analysis of the UK rental market - the lowest level in 30 months.

Despite a softening of demand for rental accommodation, figures show that there are still 15 people chasing every home for rent - more than double the pre-pandemic average of 6 people.

The available supply of rental property is up by almost a fifth over the last year, however, there are still a third fewer homes for rent than over the pre-pandemic years due to low levels of new investment in rented homes.


Rents have fallen over the last quarter across several regional cities due to localised supply and demand changes and affordability constraints in certain cities.

According to figures from Zoopla, average rents have fallen slightly over the previous quarter in Nottingham (-1.4%), Brighton (-1.1%), York (-0.4%) Glasgow (-0.4%), Cambridge (-0.3%) and London (-0.3%).

These are modest falls in the context of the rapid growth in rents recently, but it is clear evidence that rental market dynamics are starting to turn in some markets.

The inner/outer split of London

Across the capital, rental growth has slowed the most in inner areas with rents in Westminster and Tower Hamlets up by less than 2.5% over the last year and posting modest quarter-on-quarter declines.

In contrast, yearly rents are up by over 10% in outer London areas such as Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering where average rents are 20% below the London average. The average rent in London is now £2,122, still significantly above the UK average of £1,226.

Wide variation in how much of average earnings are spent on rent

Despite the annual rate of growth in rents and average earnings narrowing overall, there’s a wide variation in how much average earnings are spent on rent.

This ranges from 41% of gross earnings spent on rent in London, to 21% in Scotland. This explains why rents are rising fastest in the North East and Scotland as rental costs account for the lowest proportion of gross earnings. In contrast, in London, the growing unaffordability of renting is starting to act as a drag on rental growth.

This unaffordability is also driven by a lack of supply in the rental market. The stock of homes in the private rented sector across Great Britain has remained broadly flat since 2016 at c5.4m. Although there hasn’t been an exodus of landlords, the levels of net new investment have been low which has stalled any growth in supply to meet higher demand.

This has been compounded by 2016 tax changes and rising interest rates which have impacted the number of buy-to-let landlords. Despite this, Zoopla data shows a continued steady flow of homes for sale on Zoopla that were previously rented. This averages c.31,000 a quarter, a level that has remained broadly constant for the last four years.

Rental market outlook for the rest of 2024

Zoopla forecasts that the market will see further declines this year and is still on track for a slowdown in rental growth to 5% in 2024. This is being driven by changes in demand and affordability, rather than any expansion in supply which should be a key focus area for any incoming government.

General Election

While a General Election means the Rental Reform Bill failed to make it to the statute books, rental reform is still needed in the rental sector to improve the protections for existing renters. The big policy focus of a new Government should be on boosting the stock of homes for rent – both private and affordable - through increased housing delivery supported by additional funding and reforms to the planning system.

According to Zoopla, this is the best option to improve the choice for renters and improve the quality of homes for rent. It’s important political parties set out specific policies to support the private rented sector in manifestos.

Richard Donnell, Executive Director at Zoopla comments: “The increase in the cost of renting has slowed to a 30-month low. Rents continue to grow faster than average earnings although the gap is much narrower than a year ago. Rental demand continues to run well ahead of available supply which is keeping the upward pressure on rents but there are some areas where rental growth has stalled.

“The number of private rented homes has been static since 2016 which has compounded the rise in rents over the last 3 years. Growing the supply of rented homes, both private and affordable, should be among the top housing priorities for the next Government.

"A healthy private rented sector is vital for economic growth and a more balanced housing market. More supply is the fastest route to easing the pressure on renters and improving the overall quality of rented homes”

Nicola Thivessen, Director of Group Compliance at KFH said: “It is positive to see rental inflation at its lowest in 30 months, although demand for available property remains high, with supply still 1/3 lower than pre-pandemic.

"As we head into the peak summer period, the sector would benefit greatly from a continuation of more available homes to rent, which would help level out the ongoing imbalance between supply and demand, easing the pressure off tenants in terms of affordability.”

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank commented: “Rental growth has calmed down since the pandemic but it’s still high by historical standards. Landlords have left the sector as red tape, tax and legislative uncertainty have proliferated, which has ultimately hurt tenants.

"Average rents are 22% higher than they were before the pandemic and the figure is even higher in many areas. Abandoning the Renters Reform Bill before the election will only prolong the sense of limbo for landlords, which means more may sell up.”

Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark comments: “Our member agents have told us for years of the growing disparity in the number of private rented homes on the market in comparison to the rising demand from tenants.

“As legal and financial obligations increase for landlords, it’s no surprise that many are turning elsewhere to invest their money. A priority for the new UK Government should be to support and incentivise landlords to invest, not to deter or penalise them like we’ve continued to see in the past.

“We want to get rent levels back down to sensible and affordable levels for the nation, and without a boost in supply, this is unlikely to happen.”

Adam Jennings, head of lettings at Chestertons, says: “London is home to one of the world’s most competitive rental markets but the recent increase in the number of available properties has created a slightly better environment for tenants wanting to move.

"We have seen a momentary slowdown of rent increases but are expecting more tenants to start their search over the summer months. It is therefore only a matter of time before demand levels outgrow supply to a degree that triggers rents to go up again.”

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