Rail strikes could be responsible for rent dips, figures show

Rail strikes could be responsible for rent dips, figures show

The Southern Rail strikes which have caused disruption for commuters have started to have an impact on rental price growth in the South East.

Landbay's latest rental index shows that rental growth has slowed in five of the six key areas affected by the strikes.

The buy-to-let lender suggests that landlords in these areas may well have had to limit rent increases or cut rents in the second half of 2016 in order to meet dwindling levels of demand.

The strikes, which are estimated to have affected hundreds of thousands of passengers, started last August but commuters using the Southern Rail service have been experiencing disruption since July 2016.

Landbay's figures show that in Surrey - which is home to major Southern stations Dorking and Guildford - average rental growth was -0.02% in the second half of 2016, down from 0.12% in the first half of the year.

Rental growth also slowed, albeit less significantly, in East Sussex (0.26% to 0.15%), West Sussex (0.24% to 0.19%), Kent (0.27% to 0.19%) and Milton Keynes (0.34% to 0.17%) during the same period.

The only area affected by the strike to record positive growth in the second half of 2016 was Brighton and Hove, where rental growth increased marginally from 0.24% in H1 to 0.26%.

Average rents across the whole of the South East region grew by 0.21% over the six months from January to June, but slowed to 0.13% in July to December. 

Consequently, only the North East and London are now exhibiting slower rental growth over the last five years. 

"Rental prices along the Southern network haven't plummeted just yet, but these figures do suggest that it is beginning to have an impact on local property markets," comments John Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of Landbay.

"While the strikes may have caused headaches for commuters across the network, the dwindling rents are a small positive for tenants."

"Whether the lower rental prices are worth the delays is a whole other story," he adds. 

"With disruption expected to continue, people will begin to re-evaluate the criteria when it comes to renting - whether that be distance from London or reliable transport links."

Goodall says his firm's research demonstrates the influence external factors have on the rental market. He points to previous reports which have highlighted to positive impact of infrastructural transport developments like Crossrail and HS2.

Landbay has also announced the launch of its 'Rent Check' tool, which allows tenants and landlords to compare their own rents against properties with the same number of bedrooms in their area.

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