Tenants already struggling with the cost of living crisis typically face having to find an extra £1,000 this year to cover higher rent and essential bills, research shows.
The estate agent Hamptons said tenants’ finances faced a record squeeze as higher rents and energy bill increases combined to pile more pressure on households in Great Britain.
Recent research from other property firms such as Rightmove has already shown that rents have been rising at their fastest rate on record as tenants making plans for a post-pandemic life jostle for properties. In its latest monthly lettings index, Hamptons said this strong growth led to the average household in Great Britain spending 42% of their post-tax income on rent in 2021 – the highest proportion since its records began in 2010.
When other costs such as gas, electricity, council tax, broadband and a TV licence were included, it meant a typical household spent 52% of their post-tax income on rent and bills in 2021.
This figure is set to climb further as the cost of living crisis deepens. By the end of this year, Hamptons predicts that the average rented household will be spending a record 54% of their post-tax income on rent and bills.
This will typically cost them an extra £1,008 this year alone, with their total outlay set to rise to £17,914 – up from £16,906 in 2021. The 2022 figure includes an estimated £4,015 for household bills, compared with £3,350 in 2021.
Private rents are still rising, with the new report putting the average monthly cost of a newly let property in Great Britain at £1,118 in February. That was 6.7% or £70 higher than 12 months earlier.
The annual rate of rental growth has gradually been coming down over the past few months – in July 2021 it was running at 8.7% – and Hamptons expects it to slow to about 2.5% by the end of this year.
However, the latest national figure disguises wide regional variations. In south-east England and outer London, average rents are 1.5% to 3% higher than a year ago, and in the south-west they are up by 13%.
During the coronavirus pandemic, some tenants quit London and other big cities after deciding they wanted to live in the suburbs, the countryside or near the sea. Others are planning to do so.
Aneisha Beveridge, the head of research at Hamptons, said: “Financial pressures are raining down on households but while last year it was rental growth that ate into tenants’ incomes, this year it’s more likely to be energy costs.”
She said that with more income tied up in essentials, it was likely that discretionary spending was set to fall later this year, which she noted was “bad news for the wider economy”.