Commuters faced with double blow as rent rises run alongside train fare hikes

  • UK rents grew by 0.56 per cent in 2017, a fraction of this week’s 3.6 per cent hike in rail season tickets, but for many commuters the actual financial burden of growing rents will outstrip increases to train fares
  • 17 out of the 40 towns ranked as the most popular London commuter hotspots have seen rents rise by a greater amount than the increase in train fares introduced this week
  • Commuters living in Guildford, Reigate and Woking, which all saw annual rent costs fall by £127 (-0.73 per cent) in 2017, will be saving enough to offset the rail fare hikes.

In a week that saw train season ticket prices rise by an average of 3.6 per cent across the UK, the biggest increase to fares since 20131, Landbay’s Rental Index, powered by MIAC, reveals that commuters in almost half of London’s most popular commuter towns face a greater overall financial burden from growing rents than from train fares.

Of the capital’s 40 commuter belt hotspots, all found in the East or South East of England, 17 towns are being hit with a double blow, with extra annual expenditure on rail fares surpassed by spending on higher rents. Average rents in these 17 towns, rose by an average of £183 (1.68 per cent) in the year to December, while rail fares have jumped by an average of £142 (3.6 per cent). Combining annual rental and rail fare increases, commuters in these regions are facing a total additional outlay of £325 a year. Cambridge and Brighton have seen the greatest monetary rise in rents, £228 (2.06 per cent) and £202 (1.58 per cent) respectively, as rail fares in both regions rose by £172 and £163.

A further six towns in London’s commuter belt saw rents rise by more than one per cent in 2017, double that of the UK average. Luton, Hastings, Basingstoke, Ashford, Canterbury and Horsham have seen rents rise by an average of £146, almost as much as the average £166 increase in rail fares.

Commuters living in Guildford, Reigate and Woking, which all saw rents fall by £127 (-0.73 per cent) in 2017, will be saving enough to offset the rail fare hikes of £126, £99 and £113 respectively. Those in Aylesbury and High Wycombe (-£43) and Slough (-£4), have also made rent savings, but hardly enough to chip away at the £141, £124 and £91 increase to train fares.

There are now signs that demand for low-rent accommodation by long-distance commuters to London is pushing up rents in these areas. 31 of the 40 most popular commuter routes have seen rents rise by more than the UK average of 0.56 per cent, and by as much as 2.15 per cent in Southend on Sea and 2.06 per cent in Cambridgeshire. Only Slough (-0.04 per cent), Buckinghamshire (-0.31 per cent) and Surrey (-0.73 per cent) have seen rents fall, while Reading (0.03 per cent) and Bracknell Forest (0.05 per cent) have seen sub-average growth. This is in stark contrast to London, where they fell by -0.80 per cent in 2017. Nevertheless, with rents in the capital averaging £1,872 they remain more than twice the £765 across the rest of England.

John Goodall, CEO and founder of Landbay said:

“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. 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.”

UK Rental Index

DECEMBER 17 YoY % MoM % Av. £
UK 0.56% 0.00% 1,196
England 0.50% 0.01% 1,227
Scotland 1.18% -0.10% 729
Wales 1.36% -0.06% 643
Northern Ireland 0.75% -0.12% 563
London -0.80% -0.06% 1,872
UK without London 1.29% 0.03% 759

UK Rental Index by number of beds

One bed Two bed Three bed
YoY

%

MoM

%

Av. £ YoY

%

MoM

%

Av. £ YoY

%

MoM

%

Av. £
UK 0.42% -0.01% 1,016 0.49% -0.01%   1,157 0.85% 0.01% 1,330
England 0.35% 0.00% 1,049 0.44% 0.00%   1,192 0.78% 0.02% 1,351
Scotland 1.30% -0.16%     551 0.94% -0.10%      692 1.77% -0.06% 1,130
Wales 1.23% -0.13%     546 1.16% -0.01%      658 1.43% 0.02%     617
Northern Ireland 1.32% 0.00%     443 -0.06% -0.60%      540 1.60% 0.24%     581
London -0.62% -0.05% 1,448 -0.72% -0.03%   1,918 -0.97% -0.11% 2,671
UK without London 1.26% 0.03%     599 1.10% 0.00%      714 1.47% 0.06%     827

Rental Index and rail fare increases by commuter hotspot

Season Ticket Prices Average Rents
Station commuted from into London terminals 2017
(£)
2018
(£)
2017/18 Geography 2017
(£)
2018
(£)
2017/18
1 Brighton    4,536    4,699 £163 Brighton and Hove    12,834    13,036 1.58% £202
2 Luton    4,032    4,177 £145 Luton      9,271      9,390 1.28% £119
3 Milton Keynes    5,028    5,209 £181 Milton Keynes    11,121    11,187 0.60% £67
4 Portsmouth stations    5,048    5,230 £182 Portsmouth    10,276    10,367 0.88% £91
5 Reading    4,308    4,463 £155 Reading    12,207    12,211 0.03% £4
6 Slough    2,540    2,631 £91 Slough    11,537    11,533 -0.04% -£4
7 Southampton Central    5,504    5,702 £198 Southampton      9,093      9,161 0.75% £68
8 Southend Central    3,408    3,531 £123 Southend on Sea      8,881      9,071 2.15% £191
9 Bracknell    4,308    4,463 £155 Bracknell Forest    11,297    11,302 0.05% £5
10 Aylesbury    3,920    4,061 £141 Buckinghamshire    14,028    13,985 -0.31% -£43
11 High Wycombe    3,436    3,560 £124 Buckinghamshire    14,028    13,985 -0.31% -£43
12 Cambridge    4,780    4,952 £172 Cambridgeshire    11,048    11,276 2.06% £228
13 Eastbourne    4,668    4,836 £168 East Sussex      9,201      9,373 1.86% £172
14 Hastings    4,980    5,159 £179 East Sussex      9,201      9,373 1.86% £172
15 Braintree    4,344    4,500 £156 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
16 Brentwood    2,580    2,673 £93 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
17 Chelmsford    3,832    3,970 £138 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
18 Colchester    4,928    5,105 £177 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
19 Grays (Essex)    2,296    2,379 £83 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
20 Harlow Town    3,496    3,622 £126 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
21 Witham    4,276    4,430 £154 Essex    11,267    11,460 1.71% £193
22 Basingstoke    4,308    4,463 £155 Hampshire    11,246    11,360 1.02% £114
23 Bishops Stortford    4,044    4,190 £146 Hertfordshire    13,646    13,739 0.68% £92
24 Royston    4,620    4,786 £166 Hertfordshire    13,646    13,739 0.68% £92
25 St Albans City    3,380    3,502 £122 Hertfordshire    13,646    13,739 0.68% £92
26 Stevenage    3,612    3,742 £130 Hertfordshire    13,646    13,739 0.68% £92
27 Ashford International    5,192    5,379 £187 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
28 Canterbury stations    5,224    5,412 £188 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
29 Gillingham (Kent)    3,984    4,127 £143 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
30 Maidstone stations    4,296    4,451 £155 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
31 Sevenoaks    3,380    3,502 £122 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
32 Tunbridge Wells    4,484    4,645 £161 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
33 Tonbridge    4,088    4,235 £147 Kent    10,823    10,989 1.54% £166
34 Oxford    4,920    5,097 £177 Oxfordshire    14,201    14,295 0.66% £94
35 Farnham    3,888    4,028 £140 Surrey    17,294    17,167 -0.73% -£127
36 Guildford    3,496    3,622 £126 Surrey    17,294    17,167 -0.73% -£127
37 Reigate    2,748    2,847 £99 Surrey    17,294    17,167 -0.73% -£127
38 Woking    3,136    3,249 £113 Surrey    17,294    17,167 -0.73% -£127
39 Crawley    3,572    3,701 £129 West Sussex    11,143    11,283 1.26% £140
40 Horsham    3,988    4,132 £144 West Sussex    11,143    11,283 1.26% £140