The shifting needs of tenants throughout the pandemic has created a heightened demand for locations that offer greater space, driving average rents up to £839 when London is excluded - a rise of 5.8% against last year.
The latest data and analysis from HomeLet has revealed that when London is factored in, the average rent stands at £981, showing a 2.9% increase on last year.
HomeLet data also shows that nine of the twelve regions they monitor showed a YOY increase in rental values between January 2020 and January 2021. The South West saw the largest increase for the fifth month in a row (8%).
Rents in London continue to fall YOY, showing a 3.9% drop between January 2020 and January 2021 - the eighth decrease in annual variance in subsequent months. Rents in Northern Ireland are down 2.1% on last year – the fourth decrease in annual variance in subsequent months
The analysis found that 11 of the 21 London borough groupings monitored by HomeLet showed a YOY decrease in rental values against last year.
In January the previous average tenancy for a tenant moving to a new home was two years and nine months, this was only marginally higher than last year when the figure was two years and eight months.
The data also revealed that as well as rents rising, the volume of fraudulent and suspicious tenant referencing applications rose by over 7% in the past 12 months.
Andy Halstead, HomeLet CEO, comments: "We're seeing the value of the private rented sector's responsiveness and the crucial role it plays in supporting the changing needs for people across the UK. The data continues to show that demand remains exceptionally high in many areas. The needs of tenants have shifted throughout the pandemic, creating upward pressure on locations that offer more space, both inside and outside the property.
"Whilst rents are increasing; the expectation is that unemployment will increase further in the summer, undoubtedly leading to some tenants being unable to pay their rent. We've seen an exceptional demand for our rent protection products as agents look to safeguard their landlords and their management income. Landlords are concerned about the potential implications, should their tenant be impacted financially. Rent protection is a product that's helping the industry to add value to the service provided to landlords."
"There are still millions of people on the Governments Furlough schemes, and many will need to move home. That's why I think it's essential that we continue to carry out checks on people who are on Furlough whilst still offering rent protection for eligible tenants.
"Whilst the broader economic outlook is uncertain, the private rented sector is exceptionally resilient. We're now seeing the optimism of the vaccine rollout, but safety must remain the priority. The industry is working more remotely, and things like online viewings will continue to play an essential part in the tenancy process. This remoteness could be contributing to the increase we've seen in fraudulent and suspicious activity; it just highlights how critical high-quality checks are to the lettings process."