Covid-19 will redraw the UK rental map

Covid-19 will redraw the UK rental map

9:04 AM, 10th December 2020, About 3 years ago 2

Text Size

As the government prepares to roll out the first coronavirus vaccines, much of the nation will be anticipating a return to a more ‘normal’ life in 2021, but for London’s housing market there may be no going back to normal. New research from flatshare site SpareRoom shows that 49% of London’s renters who intend to move plan to quit the city for good once the pandemic is over.

According to the research, 27% of renters in London plan to move after the pandemic has come to an end, with half of them (49%) determined to leave the city. The upshot is a projected 13% net exodus of renters from London. What’s more, with 60% of all renters who plan on moving post-Covid-19 are not looking to move to a major city2, a wider shift away from city living looks likely.

SpareRoom’s survey also shows that one in ten (9%) renters have moved during the pandemic. This figure more than doubles for 23-29-year olds, however, with 24% of this age group having moved within the last nine months. Overall, reasons for moving mid-pandemic included needing to save money (22%), loss of job and income (9%), a desire to live in a different area (26%), to be closer to family and friends (15%) and to live with a partner (15%).

The research also highlights a huge affordability crisis for young people, with one in three people (33%) aged 23-29 saying they live with their parents. This figure only drops to one in five (18%) for people in their thirties.

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom Director said, “We’re looking at a redrawing of the UK’s rental map in 2021 and London will be the biggest loser. Whether it’s down to the catastrophic effects of COVID on tourism, hospitality and the arts, driven more by lifestyle factors like wanting outdoor space, or simply the realisation that many jobs can now be done from anywhere, London living is losing its appeal for many.

We’ve already seen the effects on London rents, with averages falling consistently since spring. What happens next is the interesting thing. This could be the start of a changing UK economy that relies less on London and the South East, as remote working becomes the new norm. If that’s the case, London rents are unlikely to recover quickly and house prices could follow suit once the stamp duty holiday ends.”

1Based on a survey of 4,003 people in the UK aged 23+ who were either renting, flat-sharing, or living with their parents.

2 Major cities are defined for the purposes of the survey as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds Liverpool, Nottingham, Glasgow, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge.

Share This Article


Jon D

13:20 PM, 28th December 2020, About 3 years ago

Good points. And leaving the EU means less migration especially from Eastern Europe. More downward pressure on rents.

On the plus side, wages will rise at the lower end, finally.


13:30 PM, 28th December 2020, About 3 years ago

There has been a lot of chatter about the number of people who are planning to quit London and move somewhere cheaper because they can work from home. I've no doubt that some will do that and there will be a dip. However, I don't believe the effect will be big and London will certainly bounce back. There are many reasons other than work to live in the capital. Access to culture, restaurants, clubs, bars, great architecture and all other aspects of big city life. I also think that people will get fed up with working permanently from home and the isolation will lead to a swing back to working in the office. Whether there will ever be a return to norms of pre-covid days is perhaps less clear, but big cities and London in particular are still a good place to own property.

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now