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August Sees Soaring UK Rents Amidst High Interest Rates Impact on Property Market

London had the highest annual percentage change, while the north-east and the south-west of the country saw the lowest.

Renting in the UK has become more expensive and the tenant demand continued to rise in August amid high interest rates.

Those looking for a rental bargain in the last month of the summer would most likely have been disappointed, as private rental prices rose in the UK by 5.5 percent in the year to August.

This is compared to the 5.3 percent in the 12 months to the previous month of July.

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The Office of National Statistics (ONS) data recorded the rise in Wales at 6.5 percent, followed by Scotland at 6 percent and England at 5.4 percent.

London had the highest annual percentage change, while the north-east and the south-west of the country saw the lowest, the ONS said.

The latest rental costs reflect the financial struggles, faced by households across the country amid the rising interest rates.

The Bank of England has been consecutively raising interest rates in response to high consumer price inflation (CPI), which is currently at 6.7 percent. The current interest rate stands at 5.25 percent, while experts predict will increase in September and further in 2024.

The high cost of borrowing had a significant impact on homeowners, who are often unable to make their increased mortgage payments. Fewer people are looking to buy property, and more turn to renting, which in turn leads to higher demand and a spike in prices.

Whether the BoE decides to increase the bank rate to 5.5 percent or higher will become clear on Thursday, when the Monetary Policy Committee makes the announcement.

Should the bank decide against raising the interest rate amid the slowdown in CPI inflation, reported on Wednesday, it will bring relief to many Britons, struggling to pay off their mortgage.

Meanwhile, renters in England, excluding London, have to adjust their budgets according to the rental increase of 5.2 percent.

The prices also increased in Northern Ireland, said the ONS, noting that the 9.1 percent rise in the year to June remains higher than for other UK countries. An update on Northern Ireland’s August figures is expected in October.

What the Future Holds

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors predicted in their residential market survey that rental prices will continue to increase over the upcoming three months.

The survey, which analysed the lettings market, reported a rise in tenant demand. There was also anecdotal evidence that landlords were leaving the sector because it was easier than making sums stack up with high borrowing costs.

This resulted in an “enduring mismatch between demand and supply,” said the survey.

Estate agents Hamptons said in their autumn rental market forecast that the “ability and willingness of landlords to absorb higher rates has been more limited.”

The agency reported that nearly 70 percent of all landlords have a mortgage or some form of borrowing. Most landlords are on interest-only deals where rate rises are amplified.

“When the interest rate doubles, so do their repayments. Extending the term of the loan makes no difference and often isn’t even an option given the average age of landlords,” said Hamptons.

The agency expects the direction of rents to be primarily set by where the interest rate settles. While high mortgage rates lead to dropping house prices, they have the opposite effect on rents.

The government’s policy is to tackle the high inflation rate and halve it by the end of the year.

“Halving inflation is my top priority because inflation eats into the pounds in your pockets and makes everyone poorer. We’ll stick to the plan and continue to support you with the cost of living,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday.

To succeed in its goal, the government needs to bring inflation down to around 5 percent by the end of 2023.

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