London rent collection lags behind as UK regions bounce back ahead of next week’s ‘levelling up’ budget

Re-Leased, the cloud-based commercial property management platform, has published its latest figures for the September Rent Quarter. These new figures analyse rent collection three weeks after commercial rents were due on the 29th September.

They reveal that, by day 21 of the September quarter (21st October), commercial tenants in the UK had paid 65% of rent, up from just 19% at the beginning of the quarter. This number is the highest at this point in the quarter since before the covid-19 pandemic, pointing to a positive overall picture in terms of economic recovery. However, on a regional level the figures reveal stark contrasts, with rent collection in the capital sitting at just 49%, compared to figures above 70% for the Northern and Midlands regions.

Total Reconciled (as of day 21) Dec Qtr 2019 Mar Qtr 2020 Jun Qtr 2020 Sep Qtr 2020 Dec Qtr 2020 Mar Qtr 2021 Jun Qtr 2021 Sept Qtr 2021
UK Average 75% 54% 57% 60% 60% 56% 61% 65%
East Midlands 77% 58% 59% 58% 65% 65% 68% 72%
East of England 71% 61% 51% 62% 67% 53% 59% 60%
London 81% 49% 54% 48% 54% 49% 52% 49%
North East   54% 80% 33% 52% 36% 32% 79%
North West 74% 47% 40% 54% 51% 52% 56% 72%
South East 69% 47% 60% 58% 51% 48% 51% 58%
South West 77% 43% 36% 40% 32% 39% 53% 56%
Wales 76% 57% 70% 67% 62% 59% 58% 69%
West Midlands 71% 65% 74% 65% 73% 63% 70% 71%
Yorkshire & Humber 63% 55% 51% 63% 65% 63% 66% 75%

This poor performance in London continues a trend seen over previous quarters, where rent collected at this point in the quarter has not reached more than 54% since the start of the pandemic. Whilst rent collection across all regions took a significant hit in the early stages of the pandemic, regions including the North East and North West have seen a significant bounce back over the last quarter. Elsewhere in the South of England rent collection remains relatively subdued, at just 56% in the South West and 58% in the South East, suggesting a clear North/South divide.

This latest data supports the recent statement of Minister for London Paul Scully, who claimed that he expects London’s recovery to take longer than that of the rest of the country. It also comes ahead of next week’s Autumn Budget, which is expected to focus heavily on the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Sam Caulton, CFO of Re-Leased, said: “Rent collection data continues to be an important barometer for economic performance, and crucially economic recovery. From these latest figures, there is definite cause for optimism – the overall UK picture seems to be looking up, as we begin to really feel the effects of the lifting of covid restrictions. Landlords in the North will be particularly pleased to see rent collection almost in line with pre-pandemic levels at this stage in the quarter.

But what this data undoubtedly shows is that the picture is vastly different across the country’s regions, and perhaps surprisingly, our capital city is proving slow to recover. We are hearing again and again from government that levelling up must be a priority, and what we can see here highlights that London must still be considered within this agenda.

What is clear in general though is that the UK’s regions look set to punch above their weight post-covid. Businesses have realised they don’t need everyone in London, and this may lead to a transition away from the capital, in which regional cities get a bigger piece of the pie.”

Re-Leased’s analysis is based on live rental collection data from over 10,000 commercial properties and 35,000 leases on its UK platform.