London rents drop £34 per month as renters compete for suburban and countryside homes

·2-min read
 (Daniel Lynch)
(Daniel Lynch)

London’s Covid exodus has seen rents fall compared with pre-pandemic levels as urban rents throughout the country stagnated.

The average asking rent in the capital was £2,044 pcm this August, a £34 decrease from February 2020, according to new data from Rightmove.

More rental properties are available in the capital than before Covid, so competition is less fierce and prices are plateauing.

This follows substantial rent drops in central London during the past 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions.

Even though rents and demand are rising sharply in the heart of the capital as autumn hits they still have some way to go to catch up to pre-pandemic levels.

In contrast, the cost of renting in suburban and rural areas rose 11 per cent, hitting £1,041 in the suburbs and £1,264 in the countryside.

Renters seeking more space and working from home during Covid restrictions meant demand outstripped supply for homes outside city centres.

The number of homes available to rent dropped by 45 per cent in suburban areas and 61 per cent in rural locations while demand as much as tripled compared to before the pandemic.

This increased competition meant rural homes were finding a tenant 18 days faster than before March 2020, with prospective tenants needing to offer above the asking price to secure a tenancy.

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister said: “A notable impact of the pandemic on the rental market has been the change in distribution of available properties between urban and suburban areas, and this demand from renters for more space further from cities has had an effect on London, where rents are now lower than they were pre-pandemic, compared to the soaring rents seen in many rural and suburban areas.

“However, with a return to the office and the easing of restrictions this summer, we have seen average asking rents and demand for London rental property increasing, something we expect to slowly continue for the rest of the year.”

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