Growing demand for more indoor and outdoor space has created a ‘halo effect’ in the UK’s largest cities as renters join the ‘space race’ to the suburbs.

Zoopla research reveals that changing patterns in working and commuting, leisure and tourism means rents are falling across key cities including Edinburgh (-1.8%), Greater Manchester (-0.9%) and Greater Birmingham (-0.8%).

While rents in central Birmingham fell by -3.4% in the year to December, in the surrounding boroughs of Bromsgrove, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, they increased by an average of 5%.

Rents in well-connected towns are also seeing strong growth, including Rochdale (+8.2%), Hastings (+8.0%) and Southend (+5.8%), with demand buoyed by renters freed from the daily commute.

This growing space race means houses for rent are letting out 30% faster than a year ago, while the time to let out flats remains largely unchanged, at just 2% faster.

Rising rents

Excluding London, the average UK-wide rent is now £920 per calendar month, with rents up +2.3% annually.

But overall, demand from renters went up by 21% during January, whereas the supply of rental properties fell -11%.

The picture is least rosy in Greater London, where rents have registered the steepest annual fall (-8.3%) since the global financial crisis. Overall demand in London is down 10% year-on-year, according to Zoopla, where new supply rose 30%, mainly driven by more short-lets being turned into long-lets.

grainne gilmour rental market

Zoopla’s Head of research, Grainne Gilmore, explains that the desire for space is unlikely to diminish any time soon, which will continue to support the family homes rental market.

She adds: “Changing working, commuting and tourism patterns were felt very quickly in the central London rental market. Now we are seeing the impact in other city centres, although on a more modest scale.”


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