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Tenants are rushing back to city centres after a pandemic-driven exit, according UK property portal Zoopla.

The UK rental market has revved up amidst a sharp rise in demand for city living, driving the highest rate of growth outside London for over a decade.

Monthly rents are averaging £790, up from £752 a year ago: this equates to renters paying an average increase of £456 per year.

But the ONS recently reported that average earnings for those in employment are rising faster than rents, with an 8.8 per cent rise in total pay year on year in June.

Demand for rental properties rose by 33 per cent in August compared to the same period last year.

This unprecedented rate of growth is driven by the post-lockdown reopening of cities, and a return among tenants to the city rental landscape.

While the rental market is seasonal, with July and August proving busy historically, current activity levels are unusually high, precipitated by students and returning city-dwellers.

That said, in August, the stock of property available to rent was around a third below where it would be typically at this time of year.

The recent surge in renters has ultimately eroded supply, which was already declining.

Rental properties are letting almost a week faster than in 2020, according to the report.

Inner cities are showing the sharpest rise in demand, with Edinburgh registering the highest growth in demand levels since February of this year.

While demand for rental houses outpaced demand for rental flats at the height of the pandemic, demand for both property types is pegging level in another sign of demand in central cities, where flats tend to make up a larger proportion of stock.

Rental demand will remain higher than usual in the coming months, in line with seasonal trends, and the lower levels of stock will support stronger rental growth through the rest of the year.

Gráinne Gilmore, head of research, Zoopla, comments: “The rental data illustrates how city life is resuming – with a sharp increase in demand in central cities. 

“The strong levels of rental demand seen across the UK during August will moderate in line with seasonal trends, but overall demand for rental property is likely to remain higher than usual in the coming months, amid this swing back to city life.”

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