London Home Rents Drop at Steepest Rate in Eight Years on Glut

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of renting a home in the U.K. capital fell the most in eight years in May as a glut of rental properties came onto the market and affordability issues led Londoners to seek cheaper accommodation.

The average monthly rent paid in May for new lettings in Greater London was 1,502 pounds ($1,940), a 3 percent decline from a year earlier, HomeLet, the U.K.’s largest reference-checking and rentals insurance company, said in a statement on Tuesday. Rents across the U.K. fell 0.3 percent from a year earlier, the first annual decline since December 2009, the data shows.

“Landlords are now facing a difficult balancing act between ensuring rents are affordable for tenants in a low real-wage growth environment whilst covering their own rising costs,” HomeLet Chief Executive Officer Martin Totty said. “The slowdown in the rental sector mirrors a similar picture elsewhere in the housing market.”

The number of properties available to lease in London jumped last year as investors rushed to make purchases before an additional levy on rentals was introduced in April 2016. A difficult sales market has also prompted more owners to offer their properties for rent. London home prices are rising at the slowest annual pace in five years, according to data compiled by researcher Acadata.