North-west cost of living

Cost of living crisis: north-west rental property is best value

As thousands of households across the UK deal with the rising cost of living, the housing market constitutes a big divide in terms of value for money.

With spiralling energy costs and rising fuel prices, alongside other issues making life less affordable for many, the housing market is of course a key player. House prices in the UK are high compared to salaries, and deposits are proving an issue for many first-time buyers, all of which is adding to demand in the rental market.

New research from Benham and Reeves has now revealed how much the average tenant spends on rent as a proportion of their salary. The data shows that, on average, people are forking out 63% of their monthly household income to their landlord. However, there are significant regional variations to take into account.

Where to get the most for your money

Renters in the north-west will have more take-home pay after rental costs and other essential outgoings than in any other part of England, according to Benham and Reeves. Here, people generally spend an average of 58% of their monthly household income on rent.

This is calculated by looking at the average monthly household income in the area (£2,900) and average monthly rent (£658). The data also assesses additional essential outgoings, which is £1,020 in the north-west, compared with £1,138 in the UK as a whole.

At the other end of the scale, monthly expenditure as a percentage of household income reaches 73% in the south-west. London is only marginally better, where renters splash out 72% of their monthly incomes.

Cost of living spurred on by inflation

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, says: “Although we saw rents drop across many areas of the UK during the pandemic, they’ve once again started to climb as Covid restrictions have eased and tenants have headed back to the workplace.

“At the same time, inflation has caused the wider cost of living to increase considerably and this is putting additional pressure on the financial stability of those living within the rental sector.”

He adds: “While London is notoriously expensive when it comes to renting, the higher earnings available in the capital mean that it’s not the worst area of the UK when it comes to the overall cost of renting in relation to household income.”

Best value for property investment

In the latest Halifax house price index, the north-west was once again the region in England with the highest price growth. Year-on-year, property values increased by 12% to £213,200.

However, this still means that house prices are well below the UK average of £276,759. The north-west represents one of the best-value areas in the UK in terms of how much you get for your money, despite the strong price growth.

What’s more, the north as a whole is consistently highlighted as having some of the best locations for rental yields.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, says: “The pandemic has contributed to a reshaping of the UK rental market. With rising house prices and an increase in average rent, there have been slower levels of growth in buy-to-let investment across the capital.

“Instead, many landlords are now looking to other areas – particularly those with a high student population – where they can attract a greater rental yield.”

While the cost of living crisis is a major issue across the UK, landlords operating in the north-west of England can still offer some of the best-value accommodation to tenants.

Growing demand in the private rented sector

A recent Rics survey shows that by far the strongest demand over the past three months among tenants has been in the north of England. On a more specific level, the north-west leads the way for the number of respondents noting a rise in tenants seeking homes on their books.

This is followed by London, where the rental market is still a major facet for thousands who would otherwise be unable to afford to live there. Scotland, Wales and the East Midlands are also experiencing particularly high numbers of new tenants, so landlords in these areas may be noticing more interest in their properties.

In terms of landlords, new instructions have been tailing off in certain areas, including the West Midlands and the East Midlands. However, areas in these regions have also been earmarked as property investment hotspots thanks to tenant demand coupled with strong house price rises and future regeneration and investment plans.

This is being led by places like Birmingham and Nottingham in particular.

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