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Revealed - rental demand plummets by 15% in Q4

New findings put forward by Estate and letting agent Barrows and Forrester shows that rental demand dropped throughout the last quarter of 2021.

During this period Omicron cases have surged, leading many to assume the decline in the market is directly related to the Covid-19 variant.

The findings were conducted by analysing 23 major UK cities. Rental listings across the nation were given an average demand score, calculated by the highest number of properties let as a percentage. 


The results show that during the final quarter of 2021 the rental demand averaged at 27.6%. In comparison to the third quarter of 2021, this is a 15.3% fall in demand.

Annual rental demand in UK cities 

Predominantly, there has been a 0.4% rise in rental demand. This is the equivalent of where the market was during the fourth quarter or 2020. 

According to Barrow and Forrester’s research, certain cities in the UK are outperforming others. In Cambridge, demand is 30.5% higher than during the end of 2020. Edinburgh is 15.1% higher and Manchester is 12.3% higher. 

In contrast, Newport saw a decline of -19%, Belfast dropped by -17.8%, Bournemouth dropped by -8.5% and  Portsmouth experienced a decline of 8.4%.

Quarterly rental demand decline

Overall, Northern Ireland’s capital city Belfast was the only major city in the UK to circumvent a rental decline. England’s capital city has also remained positive as London only declined by 0.1%.

Cardiff experienced the highest quarterly rental demand decline as figures dropped to (-44.9%. Bristol saw a decline of -39.8%, Newport 24.5%, and Portsmouth 20.8%.

Managing director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester concludes: “Just as the UK rental market was starting to find its feet after a very difficult period, the pandemic is once again causing dark clouds of uncertainty to gather and we find ourselves back where we were at the end of 2020.”

“We saw the detrimental impact workplace restrictions has had on city rental demand during the initial Covid-19 outbreak and so this is no doubt a contributing factor with the spread of the Omicron variant.”

“There is, of course, a seasonal element to this decline and so there is a very good chance that now the festive period has ended demand will start to lift once again and with the Government’s ambitious booster jab rollout, we should hopefully return to normality at a far quicker pace this time around.”


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