Rent in London: cost of a room plummets by as much as a third in some central postcodes
Continued disruption caused by Covid-19 is pushing young renters out of the capital to work or study from home outside the city centre.
Londoners looking for a room to rent in the capital are in line to make major savings on their housing costs after lockdown led many house sharers to flee the city, at least temporarily.
The cost of renting a room in London has fallen by 2.6 per cent compared to last year’s prices, pushing the average price of renting in a shared house or flat down to £728 per month, according to data from Hamptons International shared exclusively with Homes & Property.
The fall was driven by large price cuts in Zone 1 — where housing costs are generally highest — with a drop of 11.8 per cent pushing room rents down to £1,021. This is a saving of £136 per month.
Zone 2 room rents were down 9.7 per cent to £775 per month.
By comparison, rents rose slightly in Zones 5 and 6, up 2.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively, while rents in Britain as a whole rose by 6.1 per cent.
“A high proportion of the rooms rented in London are in the inner zones because people have often been willing to sacrifice having their own space to be next to a Tube station or really good amenities. For the price of a room in Zone 1 you can often get your own one-bed in Zone 4,” says David Fell, a senior analyst at Hamptons.
In the wake of coronavirus lockdown, which has seen many office workers told they will be working from home until at least summer next year, many central London renters have moved out to the suburbs or even further afield in search of a larger home to live and work in — and ride out any future lockdowns.
Fell says this is compounded by a drop in the number of students moving to London to attend university in person. There has also been a fall in new graduates making the traditional move to the capital because most of those who are lucky enough to have scored a job will be starting their working lives remotely.
Many landlords who would previously have made more money by renting a property room by room are now opting to take a price hit and rent the entire property to a single family in the hope of a longer tenancy.
Where have London rents fallen the most?
Separate research from SpareRoom found also showed room rents falling compared to the same period last year.
The biggest discount was in Aldgate, EC3, where room rents dropped 34 per cent to £983 per month. This was followed by the W9 postcode, covering Maida Vale and Little Venice, where room rents fell 20 per cent to £824; and SW1, home to Westminster, Belgravia and Pimlico, where rents dropped 17 per cent to £922 per month.
Room rents in North Kensington (W10), St John’s Wood (NW8), and Holland Park (W8) all fell by 16 per cent, according to the flat sharing website.
“Once again, London dominates the headlines in terms of falling rents, and it’s generally the most expensive neighbourhoods that are worst affected,” says Matt Hutchinson of SpareRoom.
“With so many young renters leaving the capital, either to find cheaper rents, to move with family, or to leave the UK altogether, it’s hard to know when, or even if, London will regain the appeal it had before the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing might just be a temporary shift in the rental market, or it may be the start of the UK’s rental map being redrawn permanently.”
Tenants in shared housing tend to be able to move more quickly in response to changing circumstances.
“We don’t expect London room rents to increase this year but renters may find themselves returning to the inner city if they end up working in their office more than they’d anticipated, for example,” says Fell.
Swapping east London for Wales
“I went back to my mum’s in Wales on annual leave back in March, thinking I’d be there for a couple of weeks… and then lockdown happened,” says Aneira Davies, a freelance journalist.
“At £500 per month my room rent on my house share in Ilford was cheap — but my landlady very kindly gave me a rent break while lockdown was on, so I decided to stay put and enjoy the space and countryside on the doorstep.
“It would have been really hard to work from home in my shared house, where I had a tiny room and a shared living space. At Mum’s I have a much larger bedroom and can work between the lounge and the dining room.
“Staying at Mum’s has taken a lot of the financial pressure off, which is a relief because since lockdown happened a lot of my freelance work has dried up. I gave up my room in August as the rent break was about to end and will be staying out here until at least next year, when I hope work will have picked up again.
“It’s great having all the space and enjoying some family time but I really miss London, especially seeing my friends, going to the flower market at Columbia Road on a Sunday and exploring different parts of the city.”