Average rental prices in Great Britain rose in October, marking the first increase since March 2020, according to Hamptons International.
The average cost of a newly let property increased to £1,041 per month in October, up 1.4% year-on-year.
Average rents in rural areas of Great Britain rose by 5.5% to £919 per month, in the year to October.
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Meanwhile, average rental prices in cities fell by 5.3% to £1,336 per month, over the same timeframe.
Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “Rents started to pick up steam in October. Following six months of stagnation, rental growth accelerated across Great Britain, marking the first annual increase since March.
“But the shift in tenant preferences since the spread of COVID-19 has meant that rents are now rising faster in country rather than in city locations.”
According to Hamptons, this is due to a shift in demand, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
There were 29% more homes available to rent in cities, and 48% fewer to rent in the country during October 2020, than in October 2019.
Furthermore, the shift in demand has seen landlords increase rent, with 48% of landlords who let properties in the countryside upping their monthly fee, while 35% of landlords who let properties in cities have done the same.
On a regional basis, the north of England and the South West saw the greatest rise in average rental prices annually, noting a 5.9% uplift.
As a result, the north of England posted a record high average rental price at £689 per month.
In contrast, average rents in London fell for the eighth consecutive month in October, with a 0.6% decline year-on-year.
Beveridge said: “The flexibility of the rental market has meant that while some renters have decided to make a permanent move out of cities in search of more space, others have moved out temporarily.
“The opportunity to work from home means tenants can save while paying less rent in more rural areas. As a result, the gap between rents in cities and the countryside is closing.
“Tenants making the move from city to country last month spent 31% less on rent, down from a 38% saving in October 2019. But it seems as though these changes have been firmly priced in and we expect the gap to widen again next year.”