Rising Westcountry house rental prices leave young caught in the 'rent trap'
Rising Westcountry house rental prices are leaving a generation in the "rent trap" with little or nothing left to save for a deposit on a home of their own, a charity has warned.
A report by Shelter has revealed average private rents in the South West rose by 2% from 2011 to 2012 – equivalent to an increase of £155 in a year on a typical rented home.
Large swathes of Devon and Cornwall emerged as having the fastest-rising rents.
Rent inflation in the South Hams was 4% last year, equivalent to a rise of £305. In West Devon prices went up by £228 (3.3%), and in Cornwall rent increased by £233 (3.3%).
Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: "This report reveals the huge scale of the rent trap holding back young people and families in the South West.
"Rising rents are leaving people with little or nothing to save at the end of each month, giving them little chance of ever saving enough to climb on to the property ladder."
He added: "Unless something changes, the chances of the next generation getting a home to call their own look increasingly bleak."
The latest RICS Lettings Market Survey, conducted towards the end of 2012, found that 5% more chartered surveyors in the region reported rises rather than falls in rental values. Philip Greenway, of Chesterton Humberts' Taunton branch and RICS spokesman for the South West, said: "It is interesting to see that the South West rental market increased generally last year.
"This looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future, given the challenges facing the sales market."
Alison Whitfield, of Exeter estate agents and chartered surveyors Whitton and Laing, said: "High demand continues to fuel the ever-growing market.
"Although rents have increased slightly over recent years, they are fairly static in comparison to sales values.
"That's another reason the rental market continues to grow as people are looking for less financial risk in these tough economic times."
A survey of 4,300 renters in England commissioned by the charity found in the South West nearly two thirds (61%) said they have just £100 or less left over each month after paying for rent and bills.
Three in four renters (77%) in the South West said they are only able to put aside £50 or less each month in savings, and almost two thirds of renters (63%) said that they are unable to save any money.
Richard Copus, a Devon estate agent and spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents, said: "Rents have never been so high in relation to property prices.
"More people are renting out of choice or because they cannot afford to buy from a desperately short stock of housing."