'Rentquake': The Top 20 Areas In The UK Where Rent Is Going Up

If you rent your home (which you probably do if you’re a millennial who can’t afford to buy a place), you’ll be used to seeing a hefty chunk of your salary go straight into your landlord’s pocket each month.
On top of this, there’s a good chance your salary leaves a lot to be desired. Average wages in the UK today are below where they were in 2007 – while the cost of living continues to rise – and this trend looks set to continue for another five years, according to the Resolution Foundation.
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The cocktail of rising rent costs and stagnant wages has left many people across the country feeling the pinch but some of us are feeling it more than others, as new data from the housing charity Shelter shows.
Rents have risen 60% faster than average wages across England since 2011, according to the charity, in a trend it describes as a 'rentquake'. Private rents have risen by 16% since 2011 – far faster than average wages, which have only risen by 10%, meaning people are increasingly struggling to pay their rent.
London boroughs are some of the worst affected but the problem has spread out from the capital to cities like Cambridge, Bristol and Birmingham, and market towns including Tunbridge Wells, Milton Keynes and Sevenoaks.
The blame lies with consecutive governments which have failed to build enough affordable homes-to-rent to meet demand, according to Shelter. The charity is calling for a new government plan for social housing, "so people on low income jobs can find somewhere affordable to rent, rather than overloading the private rented sector." It also wants the new three-year tenancies deal for renters to be backed up by law, to strengthen the private rented sector.
"With this surge in private renters the housing market has shifted massively and yet as a country we’ve failed to respond," said Greg Beales, Shelter’s campaign director. "This has resulted in consecutive governments focusing on better-off homeowners whilst not doing enough for hard pressed renters. We need politicians of all parties to sit up and take notice of the rising numbers of renters, and ensure they're doing all they can to protect them."
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One young renter who is feeling the pinch because of the rentquake is 27-year-old Emma Sinclair (not her real name), a PR and content executive renting in Bristol. She makes £2,000 per month before tax (about £16,650 per year after tax) and spends £985 each month to rent a two-bedroom flat in Bristol with her boyfriend. Until 2015 she lived in London, where she was earning £23k and spending £620 on rent each month. One of her motivations for leaving the capital was to reduce her living costs, but Bristol is now named by Shelter as one of the areas worst affected by the rentquake.
"Sometimes in London it felt like I was working just to survive rather than live, especially in my first roles after graduating when I was on £18-20k. I really had to watch what I was spending on weekly food shopping and would often walk for an hour or more to avoid Tube and bus fares," she told Refinery29 UK. Nowadays she walks to work, cutting the cost of travel, but has noticed an increase in the cost of living and entertainment in Bristol in recent years.
"Something needs to be done about the cost of housing. People can’t afford homes in the areas of the city that they grew up in and it’s becoming impossible for younger people to buy their own homes if they aren’t able to stay at home and save," she said. "The cost of living, in terms of food, clothes and entertainment, increasing is one thing, because supply and manufacturing costs etc. go up, but I don’t see the reason for homes – which shouldn’t be considered a luxury for anybody – following the same pattern. Everyone should have somewhere they can afford to live."
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Ola, who is 30, rents in Barking, which is the epicentre of what people are calling the 'rentquake'. She lives in the town centre where back in 2014, her monthly rent there was £860. Now she pays £900 for her 2 bed apartment. Rent is “definitely going up” she says, and while no one wants to pay more to agencies and landlords she adds that at least she sees some redevelopment that is benefiting the area. Her rent might be high, but she says it would be much steeper if she were in inner London.
With private renters now making up 4.7 million (or 20%) of all UK households, according to the most recent English Housing Survey, it’s clear something needs to be done to tackle the problem – and fast.
The top 20 areas where rents rose above average wages the most between 2011-2017
Barking and Dagenham (40% difference between change in average rent and change in household wages)
Elmbridge (36%)
South Oxfordshire (35%)
Dartford (34%)
Kingston upon Thames (32%)
City of Bristol (32%)
Daventry (31%)
Wycombe (31%)
Sutton (30%)
Tunbridge Wells (28%)
Cambridge (26%)
Milton Keynes (26%)
Harrow (26%)
Lewes (26%)
Rugby (25%)
Waltham Forest (25%)
Newham (25%)
Merton (25%)
Redbridge (25%)
East Hertfordshire (25%)
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