Official buy to let rent index gets green light

Landlords and property investors are set to get an official buy to let statistics for the first time as part of wide-ranging changes in the way the government delivers house price and rent information.

No official private rent figures are available in the UK – although some letting agents and landlord insurers have stepped in with their own data.

The problem is their statistical base is not large enough to give accurate information because their samples could be biased by location, the sample size or type of customer.

In 2010, the National Statistician was ordered to investigate setting up new rent and house price surveys after a minister admitted in Parliament that rent figures quoted in official reports were sourced from the internet.

In recent years, government house price surveys have come under criticism because those produced by the Land Registry and Communities and Local Government Department (CLG) are often at odds.

The latest average home price in England and Wales, according to the latest Land Registry figures for July, is £162,900.

However the CLG gives a UK average home price figure for July of £234,000.

The review has now come up with three recommendations:

  • The government should issue a single headline property price report
  • Better and more up-to-date local statistics should be developed
  • Official private rental statistics and a private rental price index should be developed for the UK

To support the recommendations, the Housing Statistics network is publishing a report on the investigations so far online in October 2012.

“This report builds on the findings from my review of official house price statistics, published in December 2010,” said National Statistician Jil Matheson.

“The housing market affects everyone in the UK in some way. Statistics on the housing market and the factors that influence it are essential for making informed decisions on housing, whether in central or local government, the private or voluntary sector, or private individuals deciding whether to move, rent, buy or invest.”

The report explains the review of official housing market statistics was started in response to concerns over the public and policy makers were getting the right information on the housing market at the right time to make informed decisions.