1. Main points

  • Private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain rose by 2.0% in the 12 months to March 2017; this is down from 2.1% in February 2017.
  • In England, private rental prices grew by 2.1%, Wales saw growth of 0.7% while Scotland saw rental prices decrease (negative 0.1%) in the 12 months to March 2017.
  • London private rental prices grew by 1.6% in the 12 months to March 2017, which is 0.4 percentage points below the Great Britain 12-month growth rate.
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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 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 Statistics status.

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3. Private rental prices see steady growth in Great Britain

Between January 2011 and March 2017, private rental prices in Great Britain increased by 14.5%, strongly driven by the growth in private rental prices within London. When London is excluded, private rental prices increased by 10.4% over the same period.

The rental market in Great Britain continued to show signs of strength in the 12 months to March 2017, as prices grew by 2.0%. For example, a property that was rented for £500 a month in March 2016, which saw its rent increase by the average rate in Great Britain, would be rented for £510 in March 2017.

The 12-month growth rate of private rental prices paid by tenants in Great Britain fell slightly in March 2017 to 2.0%, from 2.1% in February 2017. Rental prices for Great Britain excluding London increased by 2.2% in the 12 months to March, unchanged from February 2017 (Figure 2). The growth rate for London (1.6%) in the 12 months to March is 0.4 percentage points below 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) February 2017 Residential Market Survey reported tenant demand rising for a third consecutive month; however, this growth in demand is more modest than a year ago. The flow of new landlord instructions reportedly deteriorated.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) Private Rented Sector Report for February 2017 noted that while the demand for rental properties remained the same, the supply of rental stock decreased in February.

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4. England and Wales see growth in private rental prices, while Scotland sees a decrease

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 (0.7%) in March 2017 continues to be below that of England (2.1%) and Great Britain (2.0%). The annual rate of change for Wales has not reached 1% since March 2012 (Figure 4).

Rental growth in Scotland decreased to negative 0.1% in the 12 months to March 2017, a slowdown from a high of 2.1% in the year to June 2015. This weaker growth may be due to stronger supply and weaker demand 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%), up from 3.3% in February 2017. This was followed by the East of England (2.8%), unchanged from February 2017, the East Midlands (2.5%), down from 2.8% in February 2017 and the South West (2.5%), down from 2.7% in February 2017.

The lowest annual rental price increases were in the North East (0.7%), down from 0.9% in February 2017, the North West (1.3%), up from 1.2% in February 2017, Yorkshire and The Humber (1.6%), up from 1.5% in February 2017 and London (1.6%), down from 1.9% in February 2017.

The RICS February 2017 Residential Market Survey reports weak tenant demand in London along with negative near term rental expectations. This was echoed by ARLA who noted rent increases in London are slowing compared with the rest of the country.

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 (IPHRP) 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.

Aggregate weights information used for the IPHRP has been updated for 2017 and is published alongside this release.

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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 the Valuations Office Agency (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 and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users of the data
  • how the output was created
  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data
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