British homes city centre flats bills

Property investors could see their city centre flats surge in popularity

City centre flats have been firmly back on the radar for both investors and tenants in the private rented sector, and the trend could be set to accelerate. 

The major cities of the UK, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool and Bristol, have long since attracted huge levels of both investor interest and tenant demand.

They attract the broadest spectrum of people, from young professionals to families to overseas owners and tenants, arguably more so than out-of-town areas, due to their economies, job prospects and all the extra amenities and transport options available in them.

In the wake of Covid, there were reports of city centre flats falling slightly out of favour among some existing city dwellers. This was largely put down to the ‘race for space’, as people reassessed their priorities, looking for larger properties they could both live and work in, as they no longer needed to commute to work daily.

But city centre flats still hold huge appeal to those who want a more cosmopolitan, convenient way of life, close to all the amenities as well as jobs and transport links. And recently, potentially driven by the cost of living crisis, such properties hold even more appeal than larger homes.

City centre flats back in favour

According to a recent report from Fine & Country, and using data from Dataloft Rental Market Analytics, there has been an increase in “value-for-money homes” during the first two months of 2023 in the country’s rental market.

This equated to a renewed interest in city centre flats, with 53% of homes let in January and February this year being flats – which is similar to pre-pandemic levels and shows a relatively swift U-turn from the race for space.

The data also showed that, in the prime rental market, average rents are up by 13.6% on an annual basis, which Fine & Country says “may be attributed to renters seeking smaller, more affordable accommodation as a response to the rising cost of living”.

While the resurgence in city centre flats seems notable in the private rented sector, Nicky Stevenson, managing director of Fine & Country, also said of the general market: “The rental market continues to perform well and is expected to see a ramp up in activity as we transition from winter to spring.

“Rental prices remain high, supported by demand outstripping the market’s persistent low stock levels.”

This goes alongside a forecast 6% rise in rents over the course of 2023, as predicted by JLL, with an increase of around 20% by 2027 due to the sheer scale of demand in the sector compared with a downturn in supply.

Energy efficiency is a priority

By nature of their smaller size, city centre flats tend to be a more energy efficient option than larger, standalone homes. This is particularly the case when investing in a new-build development, finished to better standards and with the highest energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings.

Among property investors and renters alike, energy efficiency is swiftly becoming a major factor when looking for a new property. For the occupier, better energy efficiency means cheaper running costs, while for a landlord, it makes the property more future-proof when the minimum EPC rating is inevitably raised.

Stevenson commented: “As uncertainty surrounding energy costs lingers, renters are increasingly prioritising energy efficiency,” she said. “Statistics from Dataloft and the Property Academy reveal that 78% of renters considered the Energy Performance Certificate important when searching for a property.

“With government regulations that any newly rented properties must have an EPC rating of C or above by 2025, landlords will need to take steps to improve their score.

“According to DRMA, in the last year just 53% of properties in the private rented sector had an EPC rating of C or above; however, a much more promising 94% had the potential to achieve this rating.”

BuyAssociation helps property investors find their next investment opportunity in the UK, specialising in city centre flats as well as other up-and-coming areas. To find out more, get in touch.

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:


Sign up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
Manchester property investment


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT