1. Main points

  • Private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain rose by 2.3% in the 12 months to December 2016; this is unchanged for the fifth consecutive month.
  • In England, private rental prices grew by 2.5%, Wales saw growth of 0.3% while Scotland saw growth of 0.1% in the 12 months to December 2016.
  • All English regions saw growth in private rental prices in the 12 months to December 2016, with the south and east outperforming the north.
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2. Things you need to know about this release

The Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP) measures the change in price of renting residential property from private landlords. The index is published as a series of price indices covering Great Britain, its constituent countries and the English regions. All data presented are non-seasonally adjusted.

IPHRP measures the change in price tenants face when renting residential property from private landlords, thereby allowing a comparison between the prices tenants are charged in the current month as opposed to the same month in the previous year. The index does not measure the change in newly advertised rental prices only, but reflects price changes for all private rental properties.

The IPHRP is constructed using administrative data. That is, the index makes use of data that are already collected for other purposes in order to estimate rental prices. The sources of private rental prices are Valuation Office Agency (VOA), Scottish government (SG) and Welsh government (WG). All 3 organisations deploy rental officers to collect the price paid for privately rented properties. The sources of expenditure weights are the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Scottish government, Welsh government and the VOA.

IPHRP is released as an Experimental Statistic. While the methodology for IPHRP is final, Northern Ireland data is currently excluded from the price index. We are working with Northern Ireland Housing Executive to secure private rental data for Northern Ireland. Once the coverage of IPHRP has been improved to that of the UK, the IPHRP will be assessed against the Code of Practice for Official Statistics to achieve National Statistic status.

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3. Private rental prices see steady growth in Great Britain

Between January 2011 and December 2016, private rental prices in Great Britain increased by 14.1%, strongly driven by the growth in private rental prices within London. When London is excluded, private rental prices increased by 9.9% over the same period.

The rental market in Great Britain continued to show signs of strength in the 12 months to December 2016, as prices grew by 2.3%. For example, a property that was rented for £500 a month in December 2015, which saw its rent increase by the average rate in Great Britain, would be rented for £511.50 in December 2016.

The 12-month growth rate of private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain is now unchanged for the fifth month in a row. Rental prices for Great Britain excluding London increased by 2.3% in the 12 months to December, up 0.1 percentage points compared with November (Figure 2). The growth rate for London (2.4%) in the 12 months to December is only 0.1 percentage points above that of Great Britain.

Inflation in the rental market is likely to have been caused by demand in the market outpacing supply. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) November 2016 Residential Market Survey reported continued rising tenant demand, though at a more moderate pace than in previous months. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) reported a slowdown in demand. ARLA suggests the recent announcement of the ban on letting agent fees may soon apply upwards pressure to rent prices.

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4. England sees growth in private rental prices while Wales and Scotland see small increases

All the countries that constitute Great Britain have experienced rises in their private rental prices since 2011 (Figure 3). Since January 2011, rental prices in England have increased more than those in Wales and Scotland.

The annual rate of change for Wales (0.3%) in December 2016 continues to be well below that of England (2.5%) and Great Britain (2.3%). The annual rate of change for Wales has not reached 1% since March 2012 (Figure 4).

Rental growth in Scotland has gradually slowed to 0.1% in the 12 months to December 2016 from a high of 2.1% in the year to June 2015. This is 0.8 percentage points lower than December 2015. This weaker growth may be due to stronger supply in Scotland as reported by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

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5. English regions: rental prices in south and east rise faster than in north

Private rental prices in the south and east of England are rising at a faster pace than those in the north (Figure 5). The largest annual rental price increases were in the South East (3.4%), unchanged from November 2016. This was followed by the East of England (3.0%), down from 3.1% in November 2016 and the South West (2.9%), up from 2.4% in November 2016.

The lowest annual rental price increases were in the North East (1.1%), unchanged from November 2016, the North West (1.2%), up from 1.1% in November 2016 and Yorkshire and The Humber (1.8%), up from 1.6% in November 2016.

Growth in London in the 12 months to December 2016 is now 2.4%, which is 0.1 percentage points below that of England (2.5%). This may be due to falling tenant demand and negative price expectations in London as reported by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) November 2016 Residential Market Survey.

Figure 6 shows the historical 12-month percentage growth rate in the rental prices of each of the English regions.

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7. What’s changed in this release

The Index of Private Housing Rental Prices is now published on the second or third Tuesday of each month to bring it in line with other prices-related releases grouped under new “theme” days. This will increase the coherence of our data releases; for more information see Changes to publication schedule for economic statistics.

We have also improved the format of the release; if you have any comments on this new format or any aspect of this release please let us know at hpi@ons.gsi.gov.uk

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8. Quality and methodology

Details of the methodology used to calculate the IPHRP can be found in the July 2013 IPHRP article but this article requires some updating. In March 2015, methodological improvements were implemented to improve the matching of properties over time; this ensures that we are comparing “like with like”. These methodological improvements were presented in the January 2015 article.

In September 2015, we published an evaluation of our rental price indices against the growth in average private rental prices published by VOA, please see the article Explaining private rental growth. Comparisons of IPHRP against other private rent measures can be found in the article published alongside this release.

The IPHRP Quality and Methodology Information document contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data
  • the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users
  • how the output was created
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