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Biggest annual percentage change in rents reported since records began for second month in a row

Rents are continuing to rise faster than the pace of inflation and are once again at record highs, official figures show.

Tenants across the UK paid 6.2% more in the 12 months to December than the year before, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Such an increase surpassed the rate of inflation, which was 3.9% in December, and was the biggest annual percentage change in rental costs - along with November 2023 - since the ONS began collating the figures eight years ago.

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In many parts of the UK, rent rises remained under annual increases in pay, which grew at 6.6% overall.

But how much renters are paying depends on where they live. In some parts of the UK, wage rises haven't kept up with pay increases.

Rents rose by the greatest amount in Northern Ireland - becoming 9.3% more expensive over the year. But data was only available up to October 2023, so to estimate UK figures up to December 2023, Northern Ireland's October 2023 index was carried forward, the ONS said.

In Wales too, rents were 7.1% more costly in December 2023, compared to the same month in 2022.

England recorded the smallest rise - 6.1%, despite rent increases of 6.8% recorded in the capital, the region which saw the largest annual increase.

The latest official affordability figures said London was the only region with unaffordable rents - monthly costs made up an average of 35% of earnings.

The ONS classes payments of 30% or more of median income as unaffordable.

Within England, rents rose the least in the North East, by 4.6%.

Such rises are in contrast to house prices, which have reversed course and fallen after pandemic-era highs.

The data also comes amid expectations that London rents will rise at a slower pace than the rate of inflation this year.

More people in the UK are renters than either outright home owners or mortgage holders, according to Sky News analysis.