Tenants in Great Britain paid a record £51.6 billion in rent last year with rent growth in the Midlands among the highest.
The total bill is a £1.8 billion increase on 2016 and more than twice that of 2007, according to Countrywide.
It said the increase reflected a growing market for landlords – the number of tenants rose, leading to an average 2.4% year-on-year rental growth.
Rents in Greater London grew the fastest between January 2017 and January 2018, at 3.3% to an average £1,704. The South West followed with a 2.7% increase to £787. The Midlands also had 2.7% growth, to £669.
Meanwhile, the makeup of the renting population is changing significantly. Young people are becoming an increasingly larger proportion – those born after 1995 paid a total of £5.5 billion in rent last year, about double the 2016 figure.
This came as the proportion of millennial renters began to shrink. Millennials – those born between 1977 and 1995 - have paid the most rent in Great Britain since 2007 but they paid 59% of the total last year, down from a 64% in 2015. Countrywide expects their share to continue to decline.
Johnny Morris, Research Director at Countrywide, said: “As millennials age, more are becoming homeowners, so the total amount they’re paying in rent has started to drop. But the generation rent title still applies. Any fall will be much smaller and slower than seen by previous generations as fewer become homeowners.”
Older generations remain a meaningful proportion of renters despite younger tenants dominating the pool. Baby boomers - born between 1946 and 1964 – paid £5.5 billion, or 10% of all rent last year. The figure is down slightly from £5.9 billion in 2016 but the same baby boomers paid in 2013.