16:56 PM, 7th December 2023, About 3 months ago
The UK is facing a rent crisis as record net migration has increased the demand for rental accommodation, according to the boss of Zoopla, one of the UK’s leading property websites.
Richard Donnell, the executive director of Zoopla, told the Telegraph that renting was the ‘first port of call’ for most people who moved to the UK, putting pressure on the supply of rental properties and driving up rents.
He said that many landlords were leaving the sector due to tax changes and regulatory reforms, creating a shortage of rental homes.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), net migration to the UK reached a record 745,000 in 2022, meaning that more people arrived than left the country.
In the two years to June 2023, nearly 1.3 million people immigrated to the UK, mostly from outside the EU.
Mr Donnell told the Telegraph: “We have a triple whammy on the demand side, one element of which is migration.”
He also points to the number of international students heading into the UK – but there isn’t enough purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) to cope.
The ONS says that 263,000 international students came to the UK in the year to June, mainly from India and China.
He says: “And so you get an overspill of that student demand into the private rented sector.”
Mr Donnell said that one in 10 homes that are advertised on Zoopla are being sold by a private landlord.
He added: “The total number of private rented homes in this country is stuck at 5.5m and it has been for the last seven years.”
Mr Donnell also told the newspaper that some migrants would buy their home eventually, but many remain in the rental sector for longer than usual due to high interest rates and house prices.
He also said that a strong jobs market was fuelling demand for rental accommodation, as more people moved for work.
David Miles, an economist at the Office for Budget Responsibility, backed up Mr Donnell’s suggestion that migration was playing a part in rapidly climbing rates.
He told the Telegraph: “It may be that recent high rates of increase in rents is linked to population increase and to fast growth in student numbers.
“It would be strange if that was not a factor.”
The ONS data showed that rents across the UK increased by a record 8.4% in the year to October 2023, the highest annual growth rate since the series began in 2015.
The average rent in the UK was £1,029 per month in October, up from £949 a year earlier.
Rising rents have contributed to a rise in homelessness and affordability problems for many renters, especially in London and the South East, where rents are the highest.
Charities have warned that the rent crisis is pushing more people into poverty and debt and called for more investment in social and affordable housing.