Renting: more than one in seven UK private tenants ‘overpaying’

More than one in seven private tenants are “overpaying” to secure a rental property, often because they are desperate or there is nothing else available, research suggests.

Average UK rents have increased for the sixth quarter in a row as shortages of available properties continue to drive up costs, according to the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), a government-authorised scheme that keeps tenants’ deposits safe.

It found that the typical rent paid in the first three months of this year was 6.1% higher than 12 months earlier and stood at £849 a month – up from £800.

It added that for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, flats were the property type showing the biggest rise in rents, which it said “could signal the beginning of the end of the pandemic trend of renters leaving cities”.

The report is the latest in a line of surveys showing that intense competition in the rental market is adding to the financial strain being felt by many households. Earlier this month the property website Rightmove said private rents were rising at a record rate, and prospective tenants outnumbered available rental properties by more than three to one.

The DPS – which says its database of private rental prices is the largest of its kind – said a survey of tenants it carried out earlier this year found that 15% of respondents said they had paid more than the advertised rent to secure their property.

Of those, more than two in five (43%) said they had paid over the odds because they were “desperate to secure a property”, while 26% said there was nothing else on the market. A further 11% said the agent had asked them for their “best offer”, another 11% said they overpaid because they loved the property, and the remaining 9% did not give a reason for overpaying.