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Rising Westcountry house rental prices leave young caught in the 'rent trap'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

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Rising Westcountry house rental prices are leaving a generation in the "rent trap" with little or nothing left to save for a deposit on a home of their own, a charity has warned.

A report by Shelter has revealed average private rents in the South West rose by 2% from 2011 to 2012 – equivalent to an increase of £155 in a year on a typical rented home.

Large swathes of Devon and Cornwall emerged as having the fastest-rising rents.

Rent inflation in the South Hams was 4% last year, equivalent to a rise of £305. In West Devon prices went up by £228 (3.3%), and in Cornwall rent increased by £233 (3.3%).

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: "This report reveals the huge scale of the rent trap holding back young people and families in the South West.

"Rising rents are leaving people with little or nothing to save at the end of each month, giving them little chance of ever saving enough to climb on to the property ladder."

He added: "Unless something changes, the chances of the next generation getting a home to call their own look increasingly bleak."

The latest RICS Lettings Market Survey, conducted towards the end of 2012, found that 5% more chartered surveyors in the region reported rises rather than falls in rental values. Philip Greenway, of Chesterton Humberts' Taunton branch and RICS spokesman for the South West, said: "It is interesting to see that the South West rental market increased generally last year.

"This looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future, given the challenges facing the sales market."

Alison Whitfield, of Exeter estate agents and chartered surveyors Whitton and Laing, said: "High demand continues to fuel the ever-growing market.

"Although rents have increased slightly over recent years, they are fairly static in comparison to sales values.

"That's another reason the rental market continues to grow as people are looking for less financial risk in these tough economic times."

A survey of 4,300 renters in England commissioned by the charity found in the South West nearly two thirds (61%) said they have just £100 or less left over each month after paying for rent and bills.

Three in four renters (77%) in the South West said they are only able to put aside £50 or less each month in savings, and almost two thirds of renters (63%) said that they are unable to save any money.

Richard Copus, a Devon estate agent and spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents, said: "Rents have never been so high in relation to property prices.

"More people are renting out of choice or because they cannot afford to buy from a desperately short stock of housing."

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  • SmartyC  |  February 04 2013, 2:57PM

    Right now I'd rather be renting than buying. Rent may be "dead money", but the impending property value crash can't be stalled for ever by the government fiddling around with interest rates for ever, chiefly because they've played all their cards and left themselves no where to go. Housing remaining "unaffordable" is simply not an option, by its very definition if it cannot be afforded then it has to drop to a price whereby people can afford it. Prices got to current levels on the back of lax lending by banks and complete loss of control by governments, the result being the financial meltdown that almost bankrupted the banks resulting in huge bailouts being needed. Those days are over and affordability is now key. Houses can't sell until they become affordable, and with banks hamstrung there is only one way that can happen.

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  • Cidercub  |  February 03 2013, 9:02PM

    Most people want to buy purely as a way out of giving away 40-60% of your income each month just to stand still. There isn't a 'risk' people will be locked out of the property ladder, its a reality most people in my age group simply have to learn to live with. What will happen come old age in terms of retirement I dread to think.

  • wildchild22  |  February 02 2013, 1:17PM

    Why this persistent assumption that you only rent because you're saving up to buy? Back here in the real world many renters know that they will never buy their own house and are simply looking for somewhere decent to live at an affordable rent.

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  • realityzone  |  February 02 2013, 12:19PM

    But the most telling phrase in this story is "Although rents have increased slightly over recent years, they are fairly static in comparison to sales values. Which means that someone buying a house to rent out will not achieve a higher return on their investment than they would have had achieved say five or ten years ago. So the implication that the problem is caused by greedy landlords does not stack up. It is the ever rising population including migrants that is driving up sale prices and, in tandem with it the rentals pricing.

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  • trudie2010  |  February 02 2013, 11:08AM

    It would seem to some people that the sole aim in life is to own a house, be thankful for a roof over your head and start to live a little. There is more to life than home ownership, and you never really own anything.

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