Britain’s rental crisis is laid bare today as new figures show the regions seeing the highest demand.

A special report reveals Luton in Bedfordshire is the UK’s rental hotspot – with nearly 50 people racing for the keys to every home that goes up for rent.

Reading, Sheffield, Newcastle and Bournemouth make up the top five according to the data* exclusively compiled by property listing giant Gumtree.

Southampton, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile region, Longsight in Manchester, Cumbernauld in Dunbartonshire, and Droylsden in Greater Manchester were also in the top ten.

The data was released as part of a new analysis into the rental crisis conducted by House Buy Fast and Gumtree.

Commenting on the figures, Jonathan Rolande, the founder of House Buy Fast, said: “It’s truly shocking, even to those working in the property sector, just how bad the rental crisis has become – the shortage of decent homes is a scandal.”

The top 20 hotspots (see below) were based on the highest number of replies to listings in Gumtree’s Property To Rent category between April 1-30 this year.

Luton came top with an average 49 replies per advert followed by Reading on 45, Sheffield and Newcastle on 38 and 29 in Bournemouth.

The full list is shared below.

Trends expert Hannah Rouch from Gumtree added: “The demand for good quality rental properties is at a critical level and shows no sign of reducing. Gumtree’s data indicates that the rental market is under huge pressure, with home hunters competing against tens of others as soon as listings are posted. Importantly, the shortage of available rental properties is spread across the UK – this isn’t an issue that is confined to our largest cities. With many people struggling to financially make ends meet, it is crucial that more affordable rental options are brought onto the market to meet increasing consumer demand.”

The figures come in the wake of recent data that shows how the number of properties available to rent in Britain has plummeted by almost half due to landlords selling up.

In total, 163,000 privately rented properties disappeared from the market between 2019 and the end of 2023 as the number of landlords selling up outstripped purchases.

Landlords have been hit by a barrage of tax rises in recent years, from the introduction of a 3pc stamp duty surcharge on second homes in 2016 to the tapered removal of mortgage interest tax relief which began in 2017.

More recently, soaring interest rates and uncertainty over the Renters Reform Bill have also deterred many from investing in buy-to-let.

Long-term shortages of housing stock have been blamed for driving up rents. Last year, tenants renewing an existing contract saw their rental payments jump by 8.3pc, bringing the average up to £1,151 per month.

Cities / areas in cities with the highest demand for rental properties in April 2024:


Rank City / Area in City Average number of replies to a listing
1 Luton 49
2 Reading 45
3 Sheffield 38
4 Newcastle 38
5 Bournemouth 29
6 Southampton 27
7 Royal Mile (Edinburgh) 24
8 Longsight (Manchester) 23
9 Cumbernauld 20
10 Droylsden (Greater Manchester) 19
11 Old Trafford (Manchester) 17
12 Gorton (Great Manchester 16
13 Blackley (Lancashire) 16
14 Bradford 15
15 West Bromwich 15
16 Walsall 15
17 Brighton 15
18 Sighthill (Glasgow) 14
19 Bury 14
20 Rochdale 14


* Methodology: Internal Gumtree data. UK areas with a minimum of 10 listings in Gumtree’s ‘Property to Rent’ category and a minimum of 250 replies to those listings between 1-30 April 2024. Figures are rounded to the nearest whole number.