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It's unavoidable - Bolton is in a rental crisis

There is nowhere in the UK where the cost of renting has increased as much as in Bolton

March 06 2024, 14.06pm

A local MP has told The Bolton Lead that 14 years of government under-investment in housing has led to a “perfect storm” allowing the town to face the highest rent increases in the UK last year. 

Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, said: “This startling statistic highlights what I have been saying for some time. We have a Bolton rent crisis.” 

Figures compiled for the BBC by property website Zoopla this week revealed that rents in Bolton rose more than anywhere else last year – by 15 per cent. Between 2020 and 2023 they have risen a total of 38.7 per cent – faster than Manchester, London and Edinburgh and second only to Glasgow, ahead by just 0.02 per cent.

Richard Donnell, executive director of research at Zoopla, attributed the dramatic rise in Bolton to its position as a commuter town for Manchester. Home working has also allowed some city workers to seek housing further from the city.

“Affordability pressures have pushed renters to seek better value for money in commuter towns where there are more homes for rent,” Donnell told the BBC. "They may only go into the office two or three times a week and, if they are in a flat, may have looked for a bit more room.”

Rents in Bolton have gone up twice as fast as earnings in the last three years, the research revealed. An average monthly let cost £569 in December 2020 compared to £789 in December 2023. While the rate of increase is faster than in Manchester the cost is still less, with the average rental costing £1,069 in the city in December 2023.

Andrew Cardwell, managing director of Cardwell’s Estate Agents in Bolton, said: “Although the prices have increased for renting a property here, the Bolton rental market still offers good value for money in comparison to neighbouring Manchester. 

“Those looking to rent a property find that they can get a lot more for their money in Bolton in comparison to other nearby places.”


Qureshi echoed the fact that the town has become more popular with commuters but said: “While I fully support a strong Manchester, we need a strong Bolton too.

“Being part of Greater Manchester is of long-term benefit to us as a town but I do not want us to become a dormitory town for Manchester because of the government’s failure to invest in infrastructure and ‘levelling up’.”

She pointed to Liz Truss’s “disastrous" mini budget as having “a huge impact” on buy-to-let mortgages. 

“Private landlords have reacted by either selling up or removing existing tenants to re-market at higher rents. This leads to the spiral of fewer houses in the private rental market, coupled with rents going up.”

Qureshi said she has seen a “stark increase” of landlords utilising Section 21 no-fault evictions in the town, where they can remove tenants without reason.

“The numbers turning up at my advice surgeries asking for help has increased dramatically too. We need the government to fulfil their promise to ban Section 21 notices. This is the quickest way to resolve this problem but they have failed to do so.”

Qureshi and Cardwell both point to increased mortgage rates having an impact on rental demand. Cardwell said that he has witnessed an increased number of landlords “stepping away” from the private rented sector, leading to a low supply of rental property. 

“Less supply means that the properties that do come to the market are more sought after which, in a basic supply and demand curve, pushes prices up.”
Donnell said: “We simply aren’t building enough homes, especially for those on mid to lower incomes.”

More than 19,000 people are currently on Bolton Council’s waiting list, with an average 18-month wait for three-bedroom properties. 

Qureshi said: “The government needs to invest properly in social housing and regulate the market to make it sustainable.”

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