If you put ‘rent UK’ into a Google search today you will be faced with a barrage of fairly ugly, sad and depressing stories about the rentals market here that it’s pretty difficult to make sense of. There’s everything from ‘Tenants ‘face 6.3% annual rent rise’ to ‘Soaring cost of renting means a third of people ‘want to leave London’ and then ‘Average UK house price to hit £300,000 in the next three years.’ And finally, rather bafflingly ‘Google employee in San Francisco saves 90% of salary by living in a truck.’ So, what is going on in the rental market in the UK at the moment and is it really as bad as it seems?
Rents are rising equal to (or more than) house prices
Let’s start with rents going up – not an unfamiliar story either in the press or on the ground if you’re one of the many tenants who has found themselves on the receiving end of a demand for increased rent in recent months. According to a new survey by estate agent Your Move and Reeds Rains the average rent was up 6.3% in the year to the end of September, making the average figure now £816 a month. These figures mean that the cost of renting a home in England and Wales is now matching – or even possibly exceeding – house price growth. Which seems absolutely insane when we already have a situation where rents are unaffordable and first time buyers can’t afford to get on the housing ladder because of the lack of reasonably priced homes.
And in London they’re rising even faster
Of course London rents rose even faster, with the Your Move and Reeds Rains survey showing a rise of 11.6%. Which leads us neatly into the fact that many Londoners now want to leave the capital because of the pressure that these rents put on their monthly budgets. An Ipsos Mori poll for London Councils found that more than a third of people living in London were looking elsewhere as a result of the soaring costs of housing in the capital. Among private tenants this figure rose to half, which is hardly surprising given the number of terrible experiences and rising costs that we regularly hear about on our forums. 75% of people who rent in London suffer from stress as a result of the costs of renting there and 90% of those who took part in the survey agreed that the capital has a serious housing crisis.
But so are house prices
Of course if you think affordable renting is nowhere to be found then just try taking a step onto the housing ladder as a buyer. In September, forecasts indicated that the average UK house price could hit £300,000 by December this year. Even more astoundingly, by 2020, the average price of a house in London will be at the £1 million mark.
So, finally, after all that rather unsettling news, the financial savvy of Google employee ‘Brandon’ who appears to think he is a lesson to us all. Brandon lives in his truck, eats at Google, showers at Google and uses the company electricity to charge his phone and laptop. And then sleeps in a cold vehicle without heating or a bathroom. Yes, he’s saving 90% of his salary but is it worth it? You decide.