London has seen a dramatic fall in rents since the first UK national lockdown, with more people now searching for homes in Cornwall than the capital.

Knight Frank research reveals that as London has lost its lustre, rents collapsed during the past 12 months, hit by over-supply from short-let apartments re-joining the traditional lettings market, along with a lack of international students and corporate tenants.

Rental values in prime central London fell by 14% in the year to February, the steepest fall since September 2009, says the agent, while Hamptons Monthly Lettings Index for February found average rents in inner London fell 17.7% year-on-year, the largest drop recorded since the onset of the pandemic.


City landlords are grappling with large-scale rent falls, agrees Zoopla, with areas such as the City and east London worst hit – even rents in the formerly trendy and popular Shoreditch are down by 30% year-on-year.

Tom Bill (pictured, below), head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, says: “It will take a year or more for some balance to be restored and rental values to recover to where they were before the pandemic.”

Rightmove reports that many renters are trading up for space which means the enduring appeal of London has waned as priorities changed.

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Director of property data, Tim Bannister, explains: “The huge population of London means that traditionally it’s the most searched for location on Rightmove, but the appeal of the coast and the countryside over the past year has seen Cornwall crowned the new capital this year.”

However, lower London rents are now attracting greater numbers of renters from outside the capital who are opting for city-centre living post-pandemic says Knight Frank; tenants moving to prime central London came from an average of three miles away in the second half of 2020, up from 1.5 miles in the second half of 2019. 


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