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Buy-to-let slowdown drives big rise in rent

Low levels of buy-to-let activity have sent rents higher in the UK, according to a Hamptons report.

The proportion of total purchases made by buy-to-let landlords increased by just one percentage point during the stamp duty holiday — from 11 to 12 per cent — as investors failed to outbid owner-occupiers during the 15-month break.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “The holiday resulted in a small uplift in the number of new buy-to-let investors but, despite their reduced bills, they were not outbidding owner-occupiers on any significant scale.”

Rishi Sunak temporarily cut stamp duty in July 2020 in an attempt to revive the UK’s property market and encourage the country’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

On average, landlords saved £3,000 during the stamp duty holiday, as the average property investor’s tax bill fell from £8,500 in the month before the holiday to £5,500 during the break.

Investors did not reinvest their savings in property, as prices paid by buy-to-let landlords increased by just 1 per cent, to £181,000, during the stamp duty break. House prices across the country rose by 10 per cent over the same period of time.

Sales to buy-to-let landlords jumped most sharply in the North East of England, where the proportion of homes sold to investors rose from 21 per cent to 29 per cent.

In September, UK rents had increased 8 per cent compared with the previous year, meaning that average monthly rent reached £1,109 a month.

Strong demand for bigger houses led to sharp rises in rent prices in the South West, South East and East of England, while rents in inner London dropped for the 20th consecutive month.

Beveridge added: “A lack of stock in the rental market has supercharged rents.

“While investor purchases picked up a little during the spring, it hasn’t been enough to support stock levels. This has fuelled rental growth, with rents rising more than twice as fast as they were in September 2019.

“Areas in the south continue to see the strongest rental growth. The pandemic-induced race for space continues to drive demand in the areas within reach of the capital.

“But with stock short in the sales market too, we’re also seeing a rising number of homeowners become temporary renters after selling their homes in order to break their chain.

“And this is adding to demand and fuelling rental growth, particularly for larger properties.”

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