Rental prices in South West England rise at their fastest rate on record

“We’ve had seven housing ministers in the last five years and none of them have sorted it out.”

Dave Doyle

The cost of private home rental in our region grew by the fastest rate ever in the twelve months up to June, Bristol Live can reveal. Prices were 4.1 percent higher in June of 2022 than in June of 2021 – the largest year-on-year increase since comparative records began in 2006.

Taking the twelve months to July 2022, private rental prices had risen by 4 percent – the third largest rise of any UK region. Only the East and the East Midlands saw faster increases, of 4.1 and 4.3 percent respectively.

The record-breaking hike in home rental came at the same time that workers across Britain saw their regular pay fall by 3 percent, according to separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Ashley Day is the founder and director of Bristol Property Centre, an award-winning independent letting agent based in Redland. He called the average rise of 4.1 percent “quite modest”, suggesting that prices had jumped by much more in many cases.

“I’ve run BPC for ten years and supply has never been like this,” said Ashley. “Some tenants are offering up to £100 more than the landlord is asking for.”

The difficulty and expense of renting in the city is a popular topic amongst members of the Reddit forum r/Bristol, as suggested by the title of the weekly general discussion thread: “Buying, selling, moving, renting, lost property and general chat should go here.”

“I would say it’s an average price, not the best deal but equally nothing super high,” replied Party-Efficiency7718. “Good value in the current market I’d say in that location. Unfortunately, the market is messed up.”

“Just been notified that our rent is going from [£1,400] per month to [£1,900] in Horfield, and I am in disbelief,” wrote user Beardy_Will, in another thread. “Landlord reckons it is reasonable as the local letting agents told him to charge [£2,000]. Of course they tell him that as it is in both their interests to do so.”

Jeetz88 replied: “I really struggle to understand how they can justify a massive rent increase just cos some other locals are charging more. Pure greed.”

Spiralling rents come down to supply and demand, the property expert explained. “There’s simply not enough property,” he said. “There was a time we were advertising 30 properties in a month – at the moment it’s about 10 or 15.”

Many landlords are selling up due to changing regulations, which are making it less profitable to let. “Landlords can’t claim back the interest on their mortgages any more,” said Ashley. “It’s perhaps one of the only businesses in the country where they can’t claim back a legitimate business expense.

“They are also talking in Parliament about making the minimum energy efficiency band C, so landlords are exiting before they have to spend to bring property up to that standard. It can be very expensive, especially in older properties.”

He added that some landlords are capitalising on a buoyant post-pandemic sales market, cashing out and further reducing the stock of housing available in the city. And there is very little renters can do about it.

“There isn’t a situation I can see where people are going to be renting in Bristol for what you might call a reasonable amount,” said Ashley. “You can look at areas slightly further out, like Mangotsfield or Warmley, but it’s still very competitive out there.”

He added: “Try and stay where you are, if you can. If I was a tenant now, I’d probably come armed to a viewing with a tenant CV which you can hand to the agent. And offer what you feel you can afford – but don’t go beyond your means.”

The solution to the situation is “supply, supply, supply,” Ashley says. “There’s not enough student housing, so students are coming into the private sector. The council aren’t building enough social housing, and the private sector is shrinking because landlords are selling.

“We’ve had seven housing ministers in the last five years and none of them have sorted it out.”