Property News - Rental market takes a step backwards as demand falls -15% in Q4



Posted on Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Research by estate and lettings agent, Barrows and Forrester, reveals that the UK rental market has taken a step backwards due to Omicron, as rental demand has declined in the vast majority of major UK cities during the final quarter of last year. 

The Barrows and Forrester Rental Demand Index monitors rental listings across the nation, taking an average demand score for each major city 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 averaged 27.6% during the fourth quarter of 2021, a -15.3% decline compared to Q3, with the market largely returning to the same state seen in Q4 2020 with just a 0.4% increase annually.

Quarterly Slump

The most significant declines are being reported in Cardiff (-44.9%), Bristol (-39.8%), Bournemouth (-29.9%), Newport (-24.5%), and Portsmouth (-20.8%). With Newport (-24.5%), Portsmouth (-20.8%) and Swansea (-19%).

The only major UK city to avoid a quarterly decline in rental demand is Belfast where rental demand has remained flat quarter to quarter. London has also remained largely flat down by -0.1%

Other UK cities to see manageable declines are Liverpool (-5.3%), Aberdeen (-5.7%), Leicester (-6.1%), Newcastle (-7.6%), Cambridge (-8.1%), Plymouth (-10.8%), Manchester (-10.9%), and Sheffield (-11.2%).

Annual Uplift

Despite widespread declines in rental demand during the last quarter of the year, the annual change picture is marginally more promising. On average, the UK’s major cities have seen a 0.4% increase in rental demand placing the market largely back where it was at the end of 2020. 

This average is, however, being bolstered by particularly strong performances in Cambridge, where demand is up 30.5% on the year; Edinburgh, up 15.1%; and Manchester, up 12.3%. 

Demand increases have also been seen in Newcastle (9%), Glasgow (6.4%), Sheffield (5.4%), London (4.4%), Aberdeen (3.5%), Swansea (1.1%), Cardiff (0.9%), and Oxford (0.2%). 

All other cities have experienced annual decline, nowhere more so than Newport (-19%), Belfast (-17.8%), Bournemouth (-8.5%), Portsmouth (-8.4%), and Plymouth (8.4%).

Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented:

“Just as the UK rental market was starting to find its feet after a very difficult period, the pandemic is once again causing dark clouds of uncertainty to gather and we find ourselves back where we were at the end of 2020. 

We saw the detrimental impact workplace restrictions has had on city rental demand during the initial Covid-19 outbreak and so this is no doubt a contributing factor with the spread of the Omicron variant. 

There is, of course, a seasonal element to this decline and so there is a very good chance that now the festive period has ended demand will start to lift once again and with the Government’s ambitious booster jab rollout, we should hopefully return to normality at a far quicker pace this time around.”

Data sourced from the major property portals during Q4, 2021, with demand based on the number of rental properties already let or let agreed as a percentage of total properties listed. 

Table shows rental demand in major UK cities for Q4 2020, Q3 2021, and Q4 2021, alongside quarterly and annual change

Major UK Cities

2020

2021

2021

Quarterly

Annual

Q4

Q3

Q4

Change

Change

Belfast

27.8%

10.0%

10.0%

0.0%

-17.80%

London

33.8%

38.4%

38.2%

-0.1%

4.4%

Liverpool

23.0%

27.6%

22.2%

-5.3%

-0.7%

Aberdeen

4.4%

13.6%

7.9%

-5.7%

3.5%

Leicester

20.2%

24.3%

18.1%

-6.1%

-2.1%

Newcastle

23.4%

40.1%

32.4%

-7.6%

9.0%

Cambridge

21.7%

60.4%

52.3%

-8.1%

30.5%

Plymouth

34.4%

36.9%

26.1%

-10.8%

-8.4%

Manchester

23.2%

46.4%

35.6%

-10.9%

12.3%

Sheffield

21.8%

38.3%

27.2%

-11.2%

5.4%

Leeds

12.8%

23.4%

11.5%

-11.9%

-1.3%

Birmingham

21.5%

35.1%

21.2%

-13.9%

-0.3%

Nottingham

38.7%

46.2%

31.8%

-14.4%

-6.8%

Edinburgh

6.6%

36.6%

21.7%

-14.9%

15.1%

Oxford

27.3%

42.7%

27.5%

-15.2%

0.2%

Glasgow

35.1%

59.1%

41.4%

-17.7%

6.4%

Southampton

30.2%

47.2%

28.4%

-18.8%

-1.7%

Swansea

9.7%

29.8%

10.8%

-19.0%

1.1%

Portsmouth

33.0%

45.4%

24.5%

-20.8%

-8.4%

Newport

57.8%

63.3%

38.8%

-24.5%

-19.0%

Bournemouth

51.3%

72.6%

42.8%

-29.9%

-8.5%

Bristol

43.7%

79.0%

39.3%

-39.8%

-4.4%

Cardiff

24.2%

69.9%

25.0%

-44.9%

0.9%

Average

27.2%

42.9%

27.6%

-15.3%

0.4%






arrow up