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The latest figures in the Goodlord Rental Index show that the December rental market held steady, despite pandemic fears heightening during the traditionally slow month for the sector, with improved void periods month on month in most regions, and minimal change in rental prices.
Cost of rent holds steady
The cost of rent across the regions monitored by Goodlord held firm in December, with most areas recording very small shifts in rental prices. The North East, South East and the Midlands all recorded negligible shifts of less than 1% in either direction. Similarly, London saw a very small dip of just 1.7%. This was followed by the North West, where prices saw a small decline of 2.2%.
The biggest shift was seen in the East Midlands, which recorded a 7% decrease in the cost of rent. The South West, on the other hand, saw the biggest increase in the average cost of rent; ticking upwards by 1.9%.
With December a traditional slow month for the industry, the steadiness of rental prices is a strong indicator of ongoing market resilience. The average cost of rent in England is now £895.
Void periods drop across the board
Void periods improved during December, buoyed up by latent demand following November’s lockdown.
The North East and South East saw numbers hold steady month on month. All other regions - Greater London, the East Midlands, the North West, South West, and the West Midlands - saw a decrease in the average void period.
The biggest change came in the East Midlands, where voids dropped from 32 to just 20 days. Overall, the average void period across the country is now 21 days, down from 25 days on average in November.
One area which is starting to see real movement, however, is the average income of UK tenants. With restrictions continuing and unemployment rising, the impact on take home pay is now being felt by tenants. Between June and December 2020, the average salary of a British renter dropped from £24,613 to £23,462 - a decrease of 4.6%.
Salaries in Greater London saw the biggest shift across the last 6 months, decreasing from an average of £38,656 per tenant in June to £34,322 by December. Other regions have seen less dramatic changes, but all areas have seen a decline in average incomes with the exception of the South West. This may in part be due to less severe restrictions on business across the South West during the latter half of the year.
Tom Mundy, COO of Goodlord, comments:
“The market numbers for December demonstrate how resilient the lettings sector is. The cost of rent and length of void periods held firm in what tends to be a slow patch for agents, highlighting the ongoing demand for rental properties across the UK. We are however starting to see clear signs of the pressure on wages, with average salaries now starting to slip.
"This is something most agents and landlords have been preparing for. And whilst it’s undoubtedly set to shift the focus of the market, we don’t predict that it will dampen demand for lettings overall. In the main, these figures provide a strong indication that the coming months will be busy for the sector, especially seeing as house moves will continue to be permitted under the latest lockdown measures.”
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