Commuters Face A Tighter Squeeze from Rent Rises than Train Fares

Ed Webster

Commuters in nearly half of London’s most popular commuter towns face a greater squeeze from rising rents as opposed to train fares.

Last week saw train season ticket prices rise by an average of 3.6 per cent. This marks the biggest price hike since 2013. However, with rents rising for landlords, in the 40 commuter belt hotspots surrounding the capital, 17 are seeing their extra annual expenditure on rail fares surpassed by spending on higher rents. Average rents in these 17 towns rose by an average of £183, or 1.68 per cent, in the year to December. Rail fares were up by an average of £142 or 3.6 per cent. When rental and rail fare increases are combined, commuters are forced to fork out an extra £325 a year.

Landlords in Cambridge and Brighton have seen the largest monetary increase in rents, up £228 and £202 respectively. Rail fares in the region were up £172 and £163. A further 6 towns in London’s commuter belt saw rents rise by more than 1 per cent in 2017. This is double the UK average. Luton, Hastings, Basingstoke, Ashford, Canterbury and Horsham all saw rents rise by an average of £146. This nearly reaches the extra £166 in rail fares.

In contrast, commuters living in Guildford, Reigate and Woking all saw rents fall by £127 in 2017. They will now save enough money to mitigate the rail fare hikes at £126, £99 and £113 respectively. Tenants in Aylesbury and High Wycombe also made rent savings of £43 and £4 each, but this makes little dent in the £141, £124 and £91 increase to train fares.

31 of the 40 most popular commuter routes have seen rents rise by more than the UK average of 0.56 per cent in 2017. Only Slough, Buckinghamshire and Surrey have seen rents fall. Reading and Bracknell Forest have seen below average growth. In the capital itself, rents fell by 0.8 per cent in 2017.

CEO and founder of Landbay, John Goodall, said: ‘Commuters have seen their season ticket prices rise by more than £100 this week, the vast majority of whom are also looking at a double whammy of rent rises driven by greater tenant demand. At a time when rents in the capital are falling, some may even be considering a move into London, to be done with the train commute altogether. With inflation riding so high, rail fare growth shows no sign of slowing, and without a radical house building plan for purchase as well as purpose-built rental properties, rental price growth is expected to accelerate this year as well.’

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