Monthly rent fees rise for first time since 2012

Rents increased for the first time in five months in March, with Yorkshire and the Humber among the regions reporting the strongest growth, a lettings network has reported.

The “spring bounce” pushed average national monthly rents up by 0.5% compared with February to reach £735, according to LSL Property Services, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains.

London rents soared to a new average high of £1,106 a month, following a 1.3% month-on-month rise. Average rents in the English capital cost £81 a month more typically than they did a year ago, according to the study, which has been running for five years and is based on rents achieved on 18,000 properties.

While London saw the strongest rent growth, this was followed by the North East, where rents increased by 0.9% month-on-month to £529 on average. Yorkshire and the Humber also recorded one of the biggest monthly increases at 0.6%, pushing the typical rent in the region to £537.

Rent rises were also recorded month-on-month in the East Midlands, the South East and the East of England.

Wales, the South West, the North West and the West Midlands all saw rents fall month-on-month. The South West recorded the biggest drop, with a 0.5% decrease taking the average rent to £631, while Wales saw the second largest fall. A 0.4% month-on-month dip pushed the typical rent in Wales to £567.

The South West was the only region where average rents were lower than they were a year ago, with a 0.2% annual fall.

As rents rose, tenants’ finances worsened to levels not seen since Christmas, with 8.5% of all rent late or unpaid in March, shooting up from 7.4% in February.

Despite being 4.2% higher on average than they were a year ago across England and Wales, up until March private sector rents had generally been on a downward path for the previous four months.

The slide coincided with a seasonal lull as well as signs that it has been getting easier for some people who have previously found themselves trapped in the rental sector to make the jump onto the property ladder.

Mortgage lenders have reported an upturn in first-time buyer activity in recent months, following Government efforts to give more people with smaller deposits a helping hand.

However, LSL’s study suggested that last month could mark a “turning point for rents” as they resume their upward march, as demand in the rental sector remains strong amid a lack of potential homes to choose from.