The pandemic continues to shape the UK property market, with the effects felt most acutely in the growing disparity between inner city and outer city residential rents. These are the latest findings by Zoopla in its quarterly Rental Market Report.
The firm says that changing patterns in working and commuting, leisure and tourism, have eased rental demand in city centres across the UK, with an annual fall in rents that began before the onslaught of the pandemic in Edinburgh (-1.8%), Greater Manchester (-0.9%) and Greater Birmingham (-0.8%).
By contrast, a halo effect has emerged in the wider commuter zones of the UK’s largest cities. Rents are rising strongly in the wake of increased demand among some renters who are migrating towards properties with more space, indoors and outdoors, as a result of three successive lockdowns over the past 10 months.
Pockets of demand and rental performance have been redefined across inner and outer cities. For example, rents in central Birmingham fell by -3.4% in the year to December, but in the surrounding boroughs of Bromsgrove, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, rents rose by an average of 5%.
Rents in well-connected towns are also registering strong growth (Rochdale +8.2%, Hastings +8.0%, Southend +5.8% and Newport in Wales +5.5%), with demand buoyed by renters freed from the daily commute, and reprioritising their housing needs and location.
Across the UK as a whole, excluding London, rents are running at +2.3%, matching pre-Covid levels, and demand is up 21% year on year, according to the report.