Spare room rents in Swindon have rocketed in price by 13% on average over the past year, more than almost anywhere else in the country.
The price of a room in the town has gone up by 13.3% in 12 months according to statistics provided by spareroom.co.uk, an online letting service – a figure that is beaten only by Luton, Bedfordshire.
The average room price in Swindon has risen from £401 April 2015 to £455 in August 2016. Renting single rooms is popular with young people who have moved to the area to take up employment opportunities after finishing university or other education.
Shared houses (HMOs) are also financially more accessible for young people who cannot afford to rent a one bedroom property on their own.
This sharp rise in the cost of single rooms in Swindon reflects a big increase in demand, but housing and homelessness campaigners claim it could be a sign that landlords are taking advantage of the shortage of accommodation in the area.
Martin Wicks, of the Swindon Housing Action Campaign, told the Swindon Advertiser:
“This is a worrying development. Government figures for September 2015 showed an average monthly rent for a room in shared accommodation in Swindon of £377.
“If the latest rentals are £455 on average, it means that people who are in shared accommodation because they cannot afford the price of a one bedroom flat are in danger of being priced out of shared accommodation.
“This will mean more ‘sofa surfing’ or having to stay with parents or friends. We have already seen the emergence in Swindon of people renting garages to live in. Significant increases in the price of renting a room will make matters worse.
“A 13 per cent increase when inflation is only around 0.5% is not only unjustified, it’s profiteering. Landlords are taking advantage of the shortage of accommodation to push up prices to make as high a profit as they can squeeze out of people.
“The absence of any controls on the private rental sector allows landlords to get away with this. There need to be some form of rent controls which limit them at or close to the level of inflation.”
However, landlord groups and recent studies have pointed out the danagers of imposing rent controls and argue that if the market rents are higher, this in turn will encourage more landlords to offer properties to let, which in turn will lower the market rent due to competition.
Controlling rents, experts say, will simply result in fewer landlords willing to let out properties and a decline in the standards of those that do.
Room rentals cost jump 13% in Swindon https://t.co/W5LgwNHlva
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) August 18, 2016