Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

It would seem the City of “Perspiring Dreams”, or “Silicon Fen” to which it is often now referred, is becoming more exclusive by the year, with rent increases beating national records.

According to a recent report by the Cambridge News, Cambridge’s private rental market has been branded “a bonanza for landlords”, with the highest rent increases in the country.

Research carried out by the News shows the cost of renting in the city climbing higher than “almost anywhere else in the country over the past 12 months”.

Figures produced by the Cambridge News show that the average rent in Cambridge went up by 20 per cent in just a year. This, they claim, is the third highest rental increase out of anywhere else in the country, “with only the commuter belt Three Rivers and the City of London seeing a higher surge in prices”.

Cambridge could be the only local authority out of more than 300 nationally to experience such increases, where every type of property in Cambridge has seen double-digit increases on average rents, year on year.

Cambridge it seems is awash with HMO (bed-sits) according to Cambridge City Council figures obtained by the News, suggesting that more than 5,000 houses in the city are now houses in multiple of occupation (HMOs) – this would equate to around 10 per cent of the entire housing stock.

City council housing chief Cllr Kevin Price has said:

“…These latest figures confirm just why we needed Labour’s plan to give renters some security over rents. If Ed Miliband had been Prime Minister today, rents would have been set for three years.

“Under the Conservatives, landlords can still jack up the rent every six months, and that is exactly what we are seeing in Cambridge.

“Government inaction is costing Cambridge renters and employers dear.

A freedom of information request made of the council showed that of the estimated 5,000 HMOs in the city only 300 had actually been registered, which would seem at first sight an appalling indictment on the council.

The Cost of Renting in Cambridge

Oct 13 – Sept 14 Apr 14 – Mar 15 Oct 14 – Sept 15 Year on year % increase
Room £457 (12) £513 (4) £508 (4) 11 (33)
Studio £695 (2) £771 (1) £782 (1) 13 (10)
One bed £845 (4) £861 (3) £934 (1) 11 (8)
Two bed £1052 (13) £1097 (11) £1190 (4) 13 (4)
Three bed £1196 (25) £1204 (24) £1377 (16) 15 (3)
Average £934 (41) £1016 (33) £1122 (22) 20 (3)

These figures are the average cost of renting that type of property in Cambridge over the specified time period, according to the Valuation Office Agency. The figure in brackets is where Cambridge ranked nationally among all the local authorities outside London.

For the year on year % increase, the figure in brackets is also Cambridge’s rank nationally, but includes the local authorities in London as well

The figures from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)

Anton Frost, lettings partner at Carter Jonas Bradshaws, told the Cambridge News:

“These figures are an indication of Cambridge’s strong economy, which continues to attract high calibrate tenants for landlords across the city.

“As Cambridge becomes increasingly more attractive, the side effect is an increased cost of living.”

Here is a reader response to the article:

moufflon  |  January 03 2016, 9:59AM

“Why is this so difficult for people to understand? Market rents are not set by some grand collusion of landlords and letting agents, they are set by the balance of supply and demand for housing. We haven’t built enough housing (to rent or buy), whilst demand has rocketed, so the market price has increased. In the year ending Jun 2015 we had net immigration of 336,000, but completed only 82,000 new homes.

“Yes we need more control over immigration, but mostly it’s simple: BUILD LOTS MORE HOUSING. Meanwhile, everyone involved is doing everything they possibly can to constrain housing supply and make things worse – the Tories are trying to tax buy-to-let landlords out of existence, Labour want to introduce rent controls and inflict as much damage as possible on developers, and Nimbys object to every attempt to build more homes or increase the density of new developments.

“Conclusion – market rents will be going up again. The idiocy of thinking you can fix this by fixing prices is beyond belief – that theory has been tested to destruction – supply will fall, the ‘lucky’ ones with controlled rent housing will be abused by Rachman style landlords, and thousands will be left without adequate homes to live in. Where is the next generation going to live?”

Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


  1. How does this work on an individual level, though? Does \”the Market\” knock on every landlord\’s door, pointing a gun at them and forcing them to increase rents? No, landlords do it because they sometimes have to due to increased costs.However, they also do it because they CAN, because everyone does it and because the tenants do not get a choice other than moving out to live on the street.

  2. Cambridge depends on the high skilled locals and migrants doing R&D for its bio/tech industry.
    85% of them are already priced out of property market, so renting is the only option for them.
    If the rents keeps going up relative to wages, than relocating from/leaving the \”Silicon Fen\” would be the only option left on the table for most employees and their employers. Given the present political climate, the relocations are likely to be on the international level in most cases.
    The only viable solution is to supply more affordable housing by relaxing the building hight restrictions outside historical centre/conservation areas and enforcing minimum flat/rooms sizes at german/italian levels. Also restrict the mid-range housing sales to foreign investors, like it is everywhere else in the europe.


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