A new report has revealed the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on the UK rental market, with many towns benefiting from an influx of young renters while London's popularity continues to drop.
Though rents in London have fallen for three consecutive quarters, making the capital more affordable than before, it's now the only major town or city where rental demand is in decline.
Research by SpareRoom reveals that rental demand has decreased year-on-year in all areas of the capital. It's 43% down in west central London, 39% down in east central London, 19% down in east London and 15% down in southeast London.
By contrast, towns and cities in all regions of the UK are seeing an increase in rental demand. In Ipswich, it's risen 86% year-on-year, while in Warrington it's up 84% and in Northampton it's up 82%.
Gloucester (up 63%), Plymouth (61%), Brighton (54%), Southend-on-Sea (54%), Swindon (54%), Norwich (53%) and Peterborough (53%) are also seeing a significant increase in rental demand.
Belfast (up 42%), Oxford (38%), Sheffield (34%), Cardiff (24%) and Glasgow (24%) are attracting plenty of fresh interest, too.
“We know that London is losing its appeal among young renters, with Covid changing the way we feel about home and how we live," said SpareRoom's Matt Hutchinson. "The first national lockdown made people think twice about living in cities, especially London, and it’s clear to see this hasn’t changed. The result is a boom in demand outside London."
Hutchinson said that though London's decline in popularity might initially have seemed like "a temporary blip" caused by the first national lockdown, it's now "hard not to see it as a permanent shift and potentially even the start of a new chapter in the UK’s relationship with its capital city".
"It’s not just that people have left London, it’s that many of the industries that draw them there in such huge numbers are in crisis – and that could take years to reverse," he added. "The positive in all of this is that it could herald the start of a UK economy that relies less heavily on one city.”