1. Governance
June 24, 2015updated 04 Aug 2023 8:57am

These maps show that Britain now has the highest rents in Europe

By Jonn Elledge

Oh yeah, knew I’d forgotten something. Here we are, Wednesday evening already, and so far this week I haven’t attempted to drive Britain’s young, hip and increasingly numerous private renters mad with despair even once. Tch. I’m losing my touch.

So, here are some upsetting numbers, just for you. According to research just published by the National Housing Federation (NHF), the average monthly rent across the EU now stands at €481. The average monthly rent in the UK, meanwhile, is €902 – nearly twice as high – giving us the highest rent in Europe.

We’re number one! We’re number one!

“Aha!” I can hear some of you – probably the sort of smart arses with buy-to-let empires who haven’t been on the wrong side of the rental contract since 1974 – say. “But that’s an unfair comparison. You’d expect rents to be higher in Britain than in Bulgaria, wouldn’t you? Britain is rich. Idiot. Trot.”

And, to be fair, it is an unfair comparison. Much fairer to compare Britain only to other rich countries.

Oh, look, it doesn’t make any difference. Check out this map:

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Source: National Housing Federation.

Even in other rich countries rents are lower than they are in Britain. Not just a bit. By a lot.

There’s another way of demonstrating this. Here’s another map, this time of the proportion of household income going on rents:

Source: National Housing Federation.

Once again, Britain is at the top, though at least this time we can see the Spanish suffering right alongside with us.

It’s worth quoting at length the blog post where we found these maps. It’s by NFG research officer Gerald Koessl, and it discusses what all this is doing to us as a nation:

This puts a burden on household budgets. As a smaller proportion of households are buying a home and more are privately renting, the cost of renting is a concern. Individuals and families have to spend the equivalent of around 23 minutes out of every hour worked to pay for their rent, while it is around 17 minutes of every hour worked across the whole of Europe.

Koessl doesn’t mention the impact on the welfare bill (these rents have sent housing benefits through the roof). Nor does he discuss their impact on the wider economy (they’re diverting investors’ cash into unproductive assets made of bricks, too).

High rents, in other words, are awful – for everyone, that is, except landlords.

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