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London rents lower now than in 2016 – but they have risen everywhere else

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London is the only UK region where rents are lower today than they were five years ago, according to Rightmove figures.

Rents across almost two thirds of the capital’s districts are lower now than they were in March 2016, meaning that the average London rent has fallen by 2.3 per cent.

The most significant fall took place in the past year, as rents dropped by 7.8 per cent on average.

London's falling rents over the past five years have been driven by renters moving away during the pandemic. In the past year alone, the capital has seen rents drop 7.8 per cent

London’s falling rents over the past five years have been driven by renters moving away during the pandemic. In the past year alone, the capital has seen rents drop 7.8 per cent 

All other regions of the UK have seen rental prices rise since 2016, with many having experienced double-digit growth.

Excluding London, average monthly asking rents across the country are at a record high of £982 per month, up 4.2 per cent since March 2020 – the highest annual rise since 2015.

The East Midlands has seen the highest rental increases, up by 19.3 per cent over the past five years, with asking prices rising from £733 to £875 per month. 

In terms of towns and cities, Wolverhampton has seen rental prices soar by 35 per cent with rents increasing from £631 to £855 per month.

Walsall, Bradford and Liverpool have also seen asking rents surge, rising by 32 per cent, 29 per cent and 28 per cent respectively over the past five years. 

What about the past year? 

The challenges posed by the pandemic appears to have encouraged many renters to spurn London in favour of the regions.

This increased demand, coupled with a lack of available rental properties in many areas outside the capital, has continued to push asking rents upwards over the past 12 months.

The areas with the biggest rent rises outside London, according to Rightmove

The areas with the biggest rent rises outside London, according to Rightmove

The number of empty rental properties outside of London is down by 54 per cent compared to this time in 2019, whilst in London it is up by 19 per cent.

In seven regions, properties are letting at the fastest pace ever recorded, according to Rightmove. 

In the South West it is taking an average of just 14 days to agree a tenancy, and in the East of England it is taking only 16 days. 

Seven UK regions are seeing properties let at record speed, according to Rightmove data

Seven UK regions are seeing properties let at record speed, according to Rightmove data

‘Our data shows a stark contrast between the rental market in central areas of London and the market across the rest of the UK,’ said Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove.

‘Agents are telling me that they don’t have enough rental stock to meet the demand from tenants in many areas, while in London there will be some tenants who have a lot more stock to choose from.

‘The frenzied buying and selling market is likely to be exacerbating the problem as well, as some sellers are moving into rental accommodation until they find the home they want to buy, adding further demand to already diminishing rental stock levels.’

What’s the advice for landlords?

Many landlords will be benefitting from the surge in rental demand – but there is always competition, for example to secure the highest rent or the best tenants.

‘Landlords need to ensure the property looks smart and fresh and has good wi-fi, and to keep any garden or outdoor space well maintained to attract the maximum number of tenants,’ said Lisa Simon, head of residential at property consultancy Carter Jonas.

‘If tenants are looking to negotiate then that provides an opportunity to review the length of contracts and secure longer term lets with an annual rent review, to take account of the fact that the market is likely to increase again.’

What’s the advice for renters?

With properties renting in record times, many renters are having to act faster than ever before to secure a home. 

‘My advice would be to always offer asking price with an earlier occupation date, and be prepared to offer more if it’s a property you really want,’ said Simon.

‘Landlords like the security of longer-term tenants, so anything over a 12 month tenancy agreement is going to be favoured. It’s worth thinking mid to long-term about an area you’d like to live in.’

What is happening in London?

The decline in rents is being driven largely by areas of Inner London, where average rents are down by 6.5 per cent compared to five years ago.

Outer London is faring much better, with rents up by two per cent since March 2016.

The biggest rental falls in the capital have been seen in Finsbury, where asking rents are 24 per cent down since March 2016, having fallen from £2,818 to £2,147 per month.

Barnes and Stockwell have also recorded 20 per cent falls in asking rents, while Notting Hill has seen the average drop 19 per cent from £3,517 to 2,850 per month.

The figures – although alarming for landlords – are good news for London renters looking to take advantage of lower prices and explore areas that may have previously been unaffordable. 

Areas with the biggest rent declines in London since 2016 according to Rightmove.

Areas with the biggest rent declines in London since 2016 according to Rightmove.

‘The events of the past year have had a big impact on rents in London, with the more central areas being hit the hardest as tenants are no longer tied to their workplaces and have been free to seek the larger properties and lower prices found slightly further out,’ said Richard Davies, head of lettings at Chestertons.

‘As a result, prices are the lowest we have seen for several years and represent incredibly good value for those tenants thinking beyond lockdown and looking to lock-in to a good deal.

‘As the country starts to open again, we expect growing numbers of tenants to return to the more central areas and anticipate that rents will quickly start to recover.’ 

What’s the advice for London landlords?  

London landlords may be tempted to hold out for the kind of rents they might have been used to achieving in the past, but the advice is to be pragmatic.  

‘My advice would always be to just get a tenant in the property – a discounted rent is still better than a long void period,’ said Naveen Jaspal, chief operating officer at online letting agent Mashroom.

‘Without a tenant in your property, you are liable for the council tax, the full mortgage and all of the utilities. 

‘Get a tenant in, even at a lower price – use a six to 12 month contract and then reevaluate the market at the end of the tenancy agreement.’

What’s the advice for London renters?

Whilst competition for rental properties is fierce across all other regions outside the capital, the London market seems ripe for a bargain at present.

‘Falling prices are often seen as an immediate win for renters, enabling them to secure a property for what seems like a bargain,’ said Jaspal.

‘But it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t take a place that you think you will be priced out of when the market returns to normal, as you will be putting unnecessary financial strain on yourself further down the line.’   

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Ulster maintain 100 per cent European start with Northampton win

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Northampton Saints 20 Ulster 24

Ulster maintained their 100 per cent start in the Champions Cup and booked their place in the last-16 of the competition with a win over Northampton Saints that will have perhaps offered Andy Farrell a reminder of the talents of Mike Lowry.

The uncapped fullback, who trained with the Test side last summer, was in supreme form at Franklin’s Gardens, scoring two tries and earning player of the match honours in the 24-20 win.

Dove-tailing brilliantly with the fit-again Robert Baloucoune here, Lowry’s fleet footed breaks from deep were more than the English opposition could handle.

Coming in without Iain Henderson, John Cooney, Stuart McCloskey and Jacob Stockdale, the odds didn’t seem particularly weighted in favour of the northern province, all the more so when the Saints’ team selection confirmed they were not one of the sides taking a laissez faire attitude to European competition after a stuttering start.

The visitors have been made of sterner stuff on their travels under Dan McFarland though and their record against English opposition is impressive.

This 11th win in the last 13 attempts against Premiership sides saw Ulster start and finish the first half in the ascendancy with a brief Saints purple patch in between.

Coming off such a deflating performance against the 14 men of Munster in Thomond Park a week ago, there was no sign of a hangover when Robert Baloucoune smartly snuck in for an early try. The Irish wing, back from injury just in time for the coming week’s Six Nations squad, reacted the quickest to the bouncing ball and powered in between the opposing wing and fullback to finish strongly in the corner.

Remarkably, Ulster’s next two scores would similarly come from looking sharper when the ball spilled to the deck. Mike Lowry stooped and scooped in one motion when Rory Hutchinson couldn’t gather his own kick, allowing Baloucoune to send Doak under the posts.

And it was the fullback again showing his smarts when he capitilised on the confusion in the Saints backfield after Billy Burns had sent a chip over the top intended for Stewart Moore.

In between the latter two of those three first half tries Dan Biggar added a try, conversion and penalty for the hosts but Ulster will have been more than happy with their first 40 minutes in the English midlands.

When Lowry knocked on under no pressure to start the second half it opened the door for the Saints to force a penalty which Biggar kicked to cut Ulster’s lead to just one score.

And so it remained, nervously for the visitors, until the hour mark.

They first looked set to secure the try bonus with a penalty knocked into the corner but Saints would halt their maul without much ground gained with Lawes completing the job with a turnover soon after.

When Kieran Treadwell gathered a high ball and sent Mike Lowry haring up the touchline, the fullback looked an even better bet to get that all important fourth score but he too was halted short, illegally so by Alex Mitchell who was sent to the sin bin.

Ulster used the stoppage to spring Ian Madigan from the bench but the Saints read his dummy kick to the corner and were alert enough to smother him off the tap and go.

Errors looked to be creeping in for Ulster at the most unwanted of times but Nick Timoney secured a key turnover at the breakdown and, on the hour mark, Ulster finally got over the line again.

Again Baloucoune and Lowry were the ones providing all the cut and thrust. It was the winger who broke a tackle and somehow got his arms free to send Lowry clear for the game’s most crucial score.

Mitchell would return soon after but as the minutes ebbed away, so too did the chances of Saints derailing Ulster’s charge to the last 16 even if Rory Hutchinson’s late score ensured the need for one last defensive stand.

Scorers: Northampton – D Biggar, R Hutchinson tries; D Biggar 1 pen, 1 con, G Furbank 1 con. Ulster – R Balacoune, N Doak, M Lowry (2) tries; N Doak 2 cons.

Northampton Saints: G Furbank; C Skosan, T Litchfield, R Hutchinson, T Collins; D Biggar, A Mitchell; A Waller, S Matavesi, E Painter; D Ribbans, B Nansen; C Lawes, L Ludlam, T Harrison.

Replacements: A Ratuniyrawa for Nansen (40 mins), J Augustus for Harrison (56), E Iyogun for Waller (60 mins), A Coles for Lawes (64 mins), T Freeman for Biggar (67 mins), J Fish for Matavesi (71 mins), K Garside for Painter (71 mins), T James for Mitchell (76 mins).

Ulster: M Lowry; R Baloucoune, J Hume, S Moore, E McIlroy; B Burns, N Doak; A Warwick, R Herring, M Moore; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; M Rea, N Timoney, D Vermeulen.

Replacements: E O’Sullivan for Warwick (15 mins), I Madigan for Burns (56 mins), T O’Toole for Moore (58 mins), S Carter for O’Connor (58 mins), D Shanahan for Doak (58 mins), G Jones for Rea (67 mins).

Referee: P Brousset (France).

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Djokovic violated Australia’s highest national value – a ‘fair go’

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Every few years, a celebrity tries to test out the Australian border and in a nationalistic show of strength they are sent packing.

To the outside world it might seem from time to time that Australia chooses a celebrity to sacrifice at the altar of sovereignty. It must seem we make an example out of them, to scare everyone else off lying on their immigration forms and from smuggling forbidden, squashed fruit from the aeroplane meal into the country.

Things got a bit heated back in 2015 when Johnny Depp and Amber Heard sneaked their dogs into the island nation with a delicate ecosystem and a fondness for biosecurity. It escalated when the now deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to have the dogs put down.

Depp and Heard ended up copping a fine, complying with procedures and were made to film a video apologising to Australia in a performance as natural and warm as a hostage proof of life tape.

Depp eventually turned around and said Joyce looked like he was “inbred with a tomato”, but only after he was safely back in the US, like the notable big man he is. Deputy PM Joyce recently shot back in trademark eloquence calling Depp a “deadshit” live on national breakfast television.

Citizens of other (more boring) countries might be dismayed that their national 2ic would trade verbal blows with Captain Jack Sparrow. Not Australians though, who are taught in high school that our economy and trade could be threatened by an outbreak caused from improperly imported fauna and flora. We said “Good onya Barnaby” for applying the rules fairly and squarely, regardless of stardom.

There was broad support for his actions at the time, just as there has for the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa. There has been a lot of legal wrangling involving the Balkan bad boy of tennis, who is now to be deported, but for Australians the stoush was really over one thing: did he try to get around the rules?

There’s a lot of overseas analysis around the Australian public and the political will behind pursuing the case against the tennis star. After all “Djoker” (Jock-a), as he’s known here, is one of the biggest crowd-drawing players at the Australian Open, a banner event in a country where sport is the default religion. Why not let this one slide?

It’s being said that Australians just love rules. But I think this is over simplistic. What Australians actually love is fairness. In past surveys Australians have listed “fairness” and getting a “fair go” as their highest national values. There is an expectation that it doesn’t matter who the person is, they should be treated equally. We hate special treatment, particularly when it’s a public figure appearing to bend the rules the rest of us are following.

In Ireland sometimes there is the ‘ah here, sure look, go on ahead’ approach. This can be a publican letting patrons stay for a sneaky lock in, the bus driver letting you on when you don’t have correct change, but also includes say a person keeping their high-profile job after attending a certain golf function.

Rules in Ireland are bent for people we know, just as we give jobs, rentals and sometimes vaccines to people we know, in the name of “helping out”. This is seen as a positive thing by those receiving the favour, and “nepotism” by others.

Of course, Australia also has favouritism and nepotism but we like to think we don’t. Rules equate to fairness. Everybody has to be inconvenienced equally. Someone trying to get around rules when the rest of us are stuck following rules, even if they’re ones we hate, deserves to be punished.

Covid-19 has exacerbated the situation. No one is enjoying Covid rules. “I am doing the right thing, and it’s deprived me of joy just so this utter tiprat next to me can ignore them at will” is the angry thought rattling around in our rage filled brains.

Australians have not forgotten the 40,000 or so “stranded Aussies” who remained stuck overseas thanks to strict border controls during the pandemic. Those who did not get to see dying parents or hold their own children. A multi-millionaire tennis player seemingly looking for a loophole to hit a ball about for a few weeks because he refused to be vaccinated was never going to go down well.

When Djokovic stayed at the Park Hotel, the only people who might have been happy to see him were the asylum seekers who have been held there for years by the Australian Government while they await processing. They made signs and waved to TV cameras, hoping to draw attention to the “rules” keeping them locked up without an end in sight.

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Interiors trends for 2022: It’s all about vibrant designs and natural textures

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Some home trends last the course (think sustainable design and open-plan living), while others are, thankfully, fleeting (goodbye matching furniture and round beds). 

But there are a few we can count on to stay the distance this year.

So here’s what we think will be in vogue for the next 12 months.

Jaunty: A striped armchair. Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play

Jaunty: A striped armchair. Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play

Soft shapes

Curves, spheres, lozenges and circular silhouettes reflect our current desire for a greater sense of flexibility in the way we merge work and play.

‘You can expect to see more organic shapes coming to the forefront in terms of furniture,’ says the Dining Chair Co’s Amanda Huber. 

‘Curved designs feature softer lines, creating a less strict and more informal setting.’ Check out the gracious shape of Soho Home’s Luciana sofa, £2,495.

Playful pieces

The latest interiors don’t take themselves too seriously — the idea is to elevate simple materials or use them in a creative way.

Think wide, jaunty stripes on an overscaled armchair (take a look at Buchanan Studio’s Studio chair, £2,394, for inspiration), half-length linen café curtains used as cupboard skirts, and trims, tassels, bobbles and fringing on curtains, lampshades and upholstery. 

Relaxed, unfitted kitchens also feed into this look: Buster + Punch’s latest foray into freestanding cabinetry is designed to easily adapt to lifestyle shifts.

Earthy: Bold, natural colours are set to have a resurgence in our homes next year

Earthy: Bold, natural colours are set to have a resurgence in our homes next year 

Colour confidence

More of us are experimenting with colour — whether that’s mixing bold primary tones, colour washing our walls or choosing confident finishes such as all-gloss or soft plaster. 

Warm hues and nature’s tones are set to prevail, from rich terracotta and sand to olive and deeper greens.

This calming, earthy palette suits our renewed connection to nature during the ebbs and flows of the pandemic, when ‘home’ has become a byword for sanctuary. Look out for calming and uplifting bright blues.

Handcrafted appeal

Items that feature the hand of their maker inject individuality, such as the beautifully detailed pieces of Galvin Brothers: the Bobbin Side Table, £375, or the Fluted Cabinet, £4,800, both future design classics, which take inspiration from the shape of ancient columns.

Introduce handcrafted appeal through lighting, too. Susie Atkinson’s Plato lamp bases, inspired by 1940s conical leather lamps, are coated in high gloss colours. They work well with a hand-painted or trimmed shade; Rosi de Ruig’s are a timeless option, priced from £60.

Swish: Bert & May¿s Ric Rac tile from designer Samantha Todhunter

Swish: Bert & May’s Ric Rac tile from designer Samantha Todhunter

Mindful design

Lessening our impact on the planet remains key. 

‘Sustainability is not a trend, but a key design principle,’ says Kelling Designs’ Emma Deterding. 

‘It’s about changing our mindset to embrace upcycling, reupholstering and repairing.’ 

This also translates into buying fewer but better pieces and researching provenance.

‘Seek out items made from recycled materials, such as outdoor furniture produced from recycled aluminium, upcycled fabrics or fabric leftovers for upholstery, and recycled glass for tableware and tops,’ says interior designer Claudia Ludwig.

Flexible living

With many of us required to work from home at a moment’s notice, our living spaces need to accommodate relaxing, escaping, cooking and working. So quality joinery is high priority.

‘All of my projects focus on it, from library style shelving and desks to concealed storage,’ says interior designer Louise Robinson.

‘Another trend that has become hugely popular is open-plan layouts and indoor/outdoor living, which is set to continue as we try to reclaim our homes from pandemic living,’ says Fionnuala Johnston, senior home designer at John Lewis.

Try textures

The trick is to look for less obvious ways to introduce these familiar elements. Try opting for warm oak internal doors rather than ubiquitous Crittall; lining front door surrounds and frames with richly veined marble or using tactile Zellige tiles in bathrooms and kitchens.

Check out Bert & May’s new Ric Rac collection with designer Samantha Todhunter, whose pattern is inspired by the ric rac ribbon she used to sew onto the Spanish dancing skirts she made as a child.

Global interiors

Armchair travel is on the rise as many are reluctant to take risks.

That translates to confident interiors that are embracing global design motifs, from deeply pictorial wallpaper such as Osborne & Little’s Portovenere, featuring retro Ligurian village scenes, £94 per roll, to patterned flora and fauna soft furnishings.

Charming ceramics

Spanish and Italian handmade pottery is enjoying a resurgence. See the vintage collection at The Edition 94, from £40 per plate and the range of decorative jugs, plates and dishes by traditional maker Cerámica J. Marín, available at Liberty.

Savings of the week! Winter duvets

Dunelm¿s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size

Dunelm’s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size

Fuel bills are set to soar. Since turning up your thermostat against winter chills will harm the wallet this year, consider a new duvet, an item on which heartwarming savings are now available,

This will also be an investment in better sleep, improving your health and mood in the morning. 

If you share your bed, a 10.5 tog rating duvet should be sufficiently cosy.

Dunelm’s Fogarty Soft Touch microfibre-filled duvet costs from £17.60 to £35, depending on size, a 20 per cent reduction. 

A kingsize costs £33.60, down from £42. For a little more, you can have the microfibre-filled Feels-Like-Down duvet from bedding store Julian Charles, which costs from £55 to £85, a 50 per cent reduction. 

The Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction

The Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction

The price of the kingsize is £75, down from £150.

Happy to splurge? Then prices for Marks & Spencer’s Luxury Siberian goosedown duvet start at £192, down 40 per cent.

Should you dream of snuggling up under a British wool-filled duvet, the Woolroom Deluxe costs from £112.50 after a 25 per cent reduction. 

The kingsize is £157.50 down from £210.

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