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Rents and train fares up in London’s commuter hotspots

Landbay’s latest Rental Index has revealed that commuters in nearly half of London’s most popular commuter towns face a greater overall financial strain from rising rents than from train fares.

Analysing London’s 40 commuter belt hotspots, which are all located in the East or South East of England, Landbay’s findings showed 17 towns are being hit with a double blow from growing rents and rail fare hikes.

The additional annual expenditure on train travel, though, is being exceeded by the spending needed to cope with higher rents.

Average rents in these 17 towns went up by an average of 1.68% (£183) in the year to December 2017, while rail fares rose by an average of £142 (3.6%). When annual rental and rail fare increases are combined, commuters in these towns are being faced with a total extra sum of £325 a year.

The greatest increases in rents have been witnessed in Cambridge and Brighton, up by £228 (2.06%) and £202 (1.58%) respectively. Rail fares, meanwhile, rose in both regions by £172 and £163.

Another six towns in the capital’s commuter belt also saw rents grow by over 1% in 2017, double that of the UK average. Rents rose by an average of £146 in Luton, Hastings, Basingstoke, Ashford, Canterbury and Horsham, which was nearly as much as the average £166 increase in rail fares in these towns.

There was better news for commuters living in Guildford, Reigate and Woking, with falling rents (down by £127 or -0.73% in 2017) meaning tenants are saving enough to offset the rail fare rises of £126, £99 and £113 respectively. Rent savings have also been seen in Aylesbury and High Wycombe (-£43) and Slough (-£4), but nowhere near enough to offset the £141, £124 and £91 rise in train costs.

The Rental Index also showed that rising demand for low-rent accommodation by long-distance commuters to London is pushing up rents in the 40 most popular commuter towns. Overall, 31 have seen rents go up by more than the UK average of 0.56%, with particularly high growth in Southend-on-Sea (2.15%) and Cambridgeshire (2.06%).

In fact, only Slough (-0.04%), Buckinghamshire (-0.31%) and Surrey (-0.73%) witnessed rents falling, while Reading (0.03%) and Bracknell Forest (0.05%) saw sub-par growth.

The biggest falls in rent in 2017, though, were in London itself, with rental values dropping by 0.80%. Despite this, rents in London average out at £1,872, which is more than twice the average rent (£765) across the rest of England.  

“Commuters have seen their season ticket prices rise by more than £100 this week, the vast majority of whom are also looking at a double whammy of rent rises driven by greater tenant demand,” said John Goodall, chief executive and founder of Landbay.

“At a time when rents in the capital are falling, some may even be considering a move into London, to be done with the train commute altogether. With inflation riding so high, rail fare growth shows no sign of slowing, and without a radical house building plan for purchase as well as purpose-built rental properties, rental price growth is expected to accelerate this year as well.” 

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