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 17YoY %MoM %Av. £
UK0.56%0.00%1,196
England0.50%0.01%1,227
Scotland1.18%-0.10%729
Wales1.36%-0.06%643
Northern Ireland0.75%-0.12%563
London-0.80%-0.06%1,872
UK without London1.29%0.03%759

UK Rental Index by number of beds

One bedTwo bedThree bed
YoY

%

MoM

%

Av. £YoY

%

MoM

%

Av. £YoY

%

MoM

%

Av. £
UK0.42%-0.01%1,0160.49%-0.01%  1,1570.85%0.01%1,330
England0.35%0.00%1,0490.44%0.00%  1,1920.78%0.02%1,351
Scotland1.30%-0.16%    5510.94%-0.10%     6921.77%-0.06%1,130
Wales1.23%-0.13%    5461.16%-0.01%     6581.43%0.02%    617
Northern Ireland1.32%0.00%    443-0.06%-0.60%     5401.60%0.24%    581
London-0.62%-0.05%1,448-0.72%-0.03%  1,918-0.97%-0.11%2,671
UK without London1.26%0.03%    5991.10%0.00%     7141.47%0.06%    827

Rental Index and rail fare increases by commuter hotspot

Season Ticket PricesAverage Rents
Station commuted from into London terminals2017
(£)
2018
(£)
2017/18Geography2017
(£)
2018
(£)
2017/18
1Brighton   4,536   4,699£163Brighton and Hove   12,834   13,0361.58%£202
2Luton   4,032   4,177£145Luton     9,271     9,3901.28%£119
3Milton Keynes   5,028   5,209£181Milton Keynes   11,121   11,1870.60%£67
4Portsmouth stations   5,048   5,230£182Portsmouth   10,276   10,3670.88%£91
5Reading   4,308   4,463£155Reading   12,207   12,2110.03%£4
6Slough   2,540   2,631£91Slough   11,537   11,533-0.04%-£4
7Southampton Central   5,504   5,702£198Southampton     9,093     9,1610.75%£68
8Southend Central   3,408   3,531£123Southend on Sea     8,881     9,0712.15%£191
9Bracknell   4,308   4,463£155Bracknell Forest   11,297   11,3020.05%£5
10Aylesbury   3,920   4,061£141Buckinghamshire   14,028   13,985-0.31%-£43
11High Wycombe   3,436   3,560£124Buckinghamshire   14,028   13,985-0.31%-£43
12Cambridge   4,780   4,952£172Cambridgeshire   11,048   11,2762.06%£228
13Eastbourne   4,668   4,836£168East Sussex     9,201     9,3731.86%£172
14Hastings   4,980   5,159£179East Sussex     9,201     9,3731.86%£172
15Braintree   4,344   4,500£156Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
16Brentwood   2,580   2,673£93Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
17Chelmsford   3,832   3,970£138Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
18Colchester   4,928   5,105£177Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
19Grays (Essex)   2,296   2,379£83Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
20Harlow Town   3,496   3,622£126Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
21Witham   4,276   4,430£154Essex   11,267   11,4601.71%£193
22Basingstoke   4,308   4,463£155Hampshire   11,246   11,3601.02%£114
23Bishops Stortford   4,044   4,190£146Hertfordshire   13,646   13,7390.68%£92
24Royston   4,620   4,786£166Hertfordshire   13,646   13,7390.68%£92
25St Albans City   3,380   3,502£122Hertfordshire   13,646   13,7390.68%£92
26Stevenage   3,612   3,742£130Hertfordshire   13,646   13,7390.68%£92
27Ashford International   5,192   5,379£187Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
28Canterbury stations   5,224   5,412£188Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
29Gillingham (Kent)   3,984   4,127£143Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
30Maidstone stations   4,296   4,451£155Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
31Sevenoaks   3,380   3,502£122Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
32Tunbridge Wells   4,484   4,645£161Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
33Tonbridge   4,088   4,235£147Kent   10,823   10,9891.54%£166
34Oxford   4,920   5,097£177Oxfordshire   14,201   14,2950.66%£94
35Farnham   3,888   4,028£140Surrey   17,294   17,167-0.73%-£127
36Guildford   3,496   3,622£126Surrey   17,294   17,167-0.73%-£127
37Reigate   2,748   2,847£99Surrey   17,294   17,167-0.73%-£127
38Woking   3,136   3,249£113Surrey   17,294   17,167-0.73%-£127
39Crawley   3,572   3,701£129West Sussex   11,143   11,2831.26%£140
40Horsham   3,988   4,132£144West Sussex   11,143   11,2831.26%£140