These are the best and worst cities for renters in the UK

Part of the growing number of private renters? These cities offer a better experience plus more money in your pocket at the end of the month

With many priced out of the property market, the number of people renting privately has risen dramatically in recent years.

While some rent because they can’t afford to buy, for others it’s a lifestyle choice – owning a home is a big commitment and renting allows you the flexibility to easily up sticks if you think there’s something better out there.

READ MORE: Best university towns and cities to invest in a buy-to-let

However, not all locations offer renters a good deal. New research from Insulation Express has identified the best and worst cities to be a tenant.

The best places to rent

If you’re thinking about a change of scenery, you might want to consider Plymouth. It was crowned the most renter-friendly city in the UK thanks to its low unemployment rate of 2.8% and low crime levels. Additionally, only 32% of the average renter's income is spent on rent there, which is good news for those saving for a deposit.

The insulation supplier compared 30 UK cities, taking into account the average portion of salary spent on rent, tenant eviction rates, the number of available rental properties, annual rent rises, unemployment rates and crime levels.

Edinburgh takes second place thanks to its rent controls and relatively low crime rate. Image: StockCube/ShutterstockEdinburgh takes second place thanks to its rent controls and relatively low crime rate

After Plymouth, the next highest-ranked city for renters was Edinburgh, where although 39% of renters’ income goes on rent, prices are at least being kept in check. Since last year, rents have increased by only 0.6%.

The third-most renter-friendly city was Cardiff, followed by Southampton and Glasgow in joint fourth place.

  % of income spent on rent Annual rental price rise Unemployment rate Crime rate per 1,000 people Overall renter-friendly percentage
Plymouth 32% 1.9% 2.8% 59.4 100%
Edinburgh 38.9% 0.6% 3.8% 60.4 98.9%
Cardiff 36.2% 1.2% 3% 84.7 85.3%
Glasgow 30.6% 0.6% 3.8% 71.7 82.1%
Southampton  36.6% 1.4% 3.1% 80.5 82.1%
Leeds 32.9% 1.9% 4.3% 127.3 81.1%
Swansea 38.8% 1.2% 3% 84.7 81.1%
London 64.2% 1.2% 4.3% 102.4 80%
Derby 22% 2.1% 3.9% 67.1 78.9%
Newcastle upon Tyne 27.8% 0.5% 6.2% 104.2 78.9%

If you’re an animal lover, you might want to put Southampton higher on your personal list – a separate study by Towergate Insurance recently found that it was most pet-friendly city in the UK for renters.

The worst places to rent

When it comes to places you might want to steer clear of, the research found Luton to be the least renter-friendly city, with the highest number of tenant evictions at 22.3 per 1,000 rented properties.

Luton also scored poorly because it required renters to spend an average of 41% of their wages on their accommodation. Rents there are rising more quickly than in other cities, with a 1.5% hike over the past year alone.

Leicester was the second-worst city for renters, largely due to a lack of available property, as well as rent hikes and high unemployment levels. Reading, Manchester and Newport were the next least desirable.

  % of income spent on rent Annual rental price rise Unemployment rate Crime rate per 1,000 people Overall renter-friendly percentage
Luton 41.4% 1.5% 3.3% 85.3 47.4%
Leicester 33.1% 2.1% 3.9% 8.5 51.6%
Reading 49% 1.4% 3.3% 68.7 56.8%
Manchester 34.2% 1.2% 4.2% 164.1 57.9%
Newport 23.3% 1.2% 3% 98.6 58.9%
Nottingham 30.4% 1.9% 3.9% 94.2 58.9%
Belfast 31.2% 2.2% 2.3% 144.3 58.9%
Preston 26.6% 1.2% 4.2% 102.3 61.1%
Wolverhampton 26.1% 1.3% 4.5% 89.9 62.1%
Northampton 35.4% 2.1% 3.7% 81.9 62.1%

Assessing affordability

However, if you’re hoping to move from renting into ownership, you might want to cross London off your relocation list. Though it came in at number eight overall in the list of the most renter-friendly cities, the high rent prices in the capital do not make it easy to save for a deposit.

The research found that London put the biggest financial strain on tenants, with 64.2% of renters’ salaries eaten up by rent costs.

Reading and Bristol were the next most unaffordable cities to rent in, with 49% and 42.9% of tenants’ wages going towards accommodation.

Upping sticks to Derby could help renters save for a home. Image: Michael715/ShutterstockUpping sticks to Derby could help renters save for a home

On the other hand, renters in Derby are likely to have the best chance of saving for their own place, with just 22% of the average salary being spent on rent. Sunderland (23%), Stoke-on-Trent (23.2%), Newport (23.3%) and Hull (24.1%) also scored well on this front.

From an affordability perspective, the draws of various UK regions can change significantly once you’re on the property ladder.

Halifax’s Buying vs. Renting Review released this year found that homeowners in London were saving a whopping 18% in housing costs compared with those renting. In Yorkshire and the Humber, however, the gap was much smaller, with owners saving just 3% compared with renters.

READ MORE: 17 costs first-time buyers need to budget for

Featured image: David Jeffrey Morgan/Shutterstock


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