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Cities Are Back: urban rental demand rising, says agency

Rental demand has started to return to the majority of major UK cities during the second quarter of this year, with all but a handful of London boroughs also seeing an uplift.

Research by lettings agency Barrows and Forrester looks at rental listings across all of the major property portals, taking an average demand score for the nation’s major cities based on where has the highest number of properties already let as a percentage of all rental listings.

The analysis of 23 major UK cities found that rental demand is currently at 33 per cent on average, up from 23 per cent a year ago in the second quarter of 2020.


There have been notable uplifts across a number of cities, with 12 locations from Bournemouth to Cambridge, Bristol to Manchester and more, all seeing double-digit growth year on year.

Just three cities have seen a decline in rental demand over the last year. Belfast has seen a drop of 12% per cent while Plymouth (down four per cent) and Nottingham (down one per cent) have also seen a marginal decline.

London has arguably been one of the worst hit areas of the rental market during the pandemic but there are signs of a revival. 

In the second quarter of this year, rental demand averaged 30 per cent, slightly up on the second quarter of 2020.

City of London sit ls top with the largest increase at 15 per cent. Kingston upon Thames and Hammersmith and Fulham have seen the second largest increase in rental demand, with both boroughs up 11 per cent annually in Q2, 2021.

But eight London boroughs continue to see a decline. Rental demand in Croydon is down, along with Waltham Forest, Hillingdon, Havering, Lewisham, Haringey, Enfield and Newham also seeing a decline.

Managing director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, comments: “A string of national lockdowns and the many restrictions that came with them caused rental demand to dwindle across the UK’s major cities during much of 2020.


“However, the vaccine rollout and a return to the workplace have all played a part in reviving the rental market and we’re now starting to market activity climb in all but a handful of locations.

“This will come as welcome news to the UK’s landlords, many of which have had to drop rents in order to secure some form of income during the pandemic. 

“There’s a very real feeling that normality is starting to return and with so many reliant on the rental sector in order to live, we expect demand to continue to climb for the remainder of the year.”


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