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Hard-pressed private tenants face continuing rent rises

Hard-pressed tenants in Epsom & Ewell looking for an easing in rent levels this year are likely to be disappointed.

Rent Inflation CAEE ONS

Latest official figures show monthly private rents rose to an average of £1,575 in February, an annual increase of 6.5%. It will be little comfort to hard-pressed tenants to hear the national rise was 9% and 8.2% in the South East (Chart 1). In Surrey only only Elmbridge has higher average rents. Demand for smaller homes in the borough has produced the highest annual rent increases (Chart 2).

In its latest residential market survey the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reports tenant demand continuing to rise but at “a rather more modest pace”. Yet fewer new leases are coming to market and surveyors still envisage rents moving higher over the coming months.

Rents Bedrooms CAEE ONS

When we looked at rental market prospects for 2024 we noted some relief on the way. A rise in minimum wage and higher housing benefit take effect in April. And we now know that in response to a call from Citizens Advice emergency support from an extended Household Support Fund will be available.

However this month’s news again underlines the parlous position of many private renters. On behalf of so many clients we will continue to call on policymakers among other things to:

  • urgently put in place a strategy to produce more genuinely affordable/social homes for rent
  • immediately enact the Renters Reform Bill, and
  • properly support tenants at risk of, or already in, housing-related debt by recognising that housing benefit is very often still far adrift of the market.

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