Tenants Struggle As Rents Rise Faster Than Incomes, Squeezing Accomodation Budgets

 

Since 2009, UK rents have risen by 10% while tenants’ accommodation budgets have fallen by 0.5%

London room rents have soared by more than a quarter (26%) in the past five years – more than twice as fast as budgets, which have increased by just 10%

In Scotland, flatsharers’ budgets have plummeted by more than a fifth (22%) since 2009, while rents have increased by almost a quarter (24%)

Average earnings are only rising by 1.7% per year1 yet average rents are rising by 5% annually

 

Thursday 21 August 2014 – Affordable accommodation in the private rental sector is becoming ever more scarce, according to new data from flat and house share website SpareRoom.co.uk, which compares the maximum tenants can afford to spend on accommodation to average room rents.

SpareRoom’s data reveals that averageUK rents have risen by 10% since 2009 but – in the same five-year period – tenants’ budgets haven’t risen at all. In fact, they’ve fallen by 0.5%, as renters struggle with historically low wage growth and the often high cost of living.

In London, where room rents have soared by more than a quarter (26%) in the past five years, budgets have increased by a mere 10%. And in Scotland, where rents have increased by 24%, budgets have plummeted a staggering 22%.

Northern Ireland has seen the slowest rental increases over the past five years (10%), yet tenants’ budgets for accommodation have dropped 5%.

The table below shows the change in monthly rents between 2009 and 2014:

  Ave Rent 2009 (£) Ave Rent 2014 (£) Rental Increase %
London & suburbs £549 £691 25.8%
East Anglia £345 £398 15.4%
East Midlands £314 £353 12.6%
North England £304 £334 9.8%
North West England £316 £359 13.8%
South East England £390 £449 15.2%
South West England £347 £394 13.7%
West Midlands £334 £366 9.7%
Yorkshire & Humberside £312 £347 11.3%
Northern Ireland £238 £260 9.5%
Scotland £325 £403 24.2%
Wales £302 £332 9.9%
UK £500 £550 10%

 

The table below shows the change in tenants’ monthly budgets between 2009 and 2014:

  Ave Budget 2009 (£) Ave Budget 2014 (£) % Change In Budget
London & suburbs £574 £633 10.4
East Anglia £410 £433 5.7
East Midlands £363 £369 1.5
North England £361 £379 4.9
North West England £385 £402 4.5
South East England £445 £463 4
South West England £414 £421 1.8
West Midlands £392 £392 0.2
Yorkshire & Humberside £457 £381 -16.5
Northern Ireland £306 £290 -5.2
Scotland £536 £420 -21.8
Wales £340 £372 9.2
UK £415 £413 -0.5

 

Over the past year, Scotland and London have become the least affordable. Rents in Scotland have risen by 9.9% in the past 12 months, twice as fast as budgets (5.1%). In London, rents have increased by 5.1% while budgets have only increased by 3%. Based on the last 12 months, Wales is the most affordable – as budget increases, at 4%, are more than twice rent rises (1.7%).

According to the ONS, average weekly earning are rising by a meagre 1.7% per year, yet average rents rose by 5% between 2013 and 2014.

The average monthly UK room rent is currently £550 – almost a third (31%) of the average take home pay of a full-time employee2.

Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom.co.uk, comments: “What’s clear is that affordable rents are becoming ever more scarce. Many people are still struggling with the cost of living and this isn’t being helped by the fact that wage growth is the lowest since records began.

“The problem is we have a chronic shortage of housing in the areas where jobs are being created, so rents continue to rise as supply fails to meet demand. In some areas of the capital we’re seeing up to 13 people compete for every room advertised.

“The only obvious short-term solution is to encourage more homeowners to let their spare bedrooms and create supply. To do that, the Rent A Room Scheme tax-free threshold needs to be raised to act as a proper incentive. It hasn’t been increased since 1997 and rents have risen by 103% in that time. Not only will this benefit renters, it could stop thousands of homeowners slipping into arrears when interest rates finally rise.”

SpareRoom is currently campaigning for the Rent A Room Scheme threshold, which hasn’t been changed since 1997, to be raised to £7,500 per annum. To find out more, please visit: www.spareroom.co.uk/raisetheroof/about