Last year UK tenants stumped up over £50bn in rent, which is more than double the total amount paid 10 years ago, while homeowner mortgage payments have fallen.

London, the Midlands and the south-west of England have seen the biggest rent rises over the past decade, although across the country as a whole rents went up by £1.8bn in 2017 compared to the previous year – bringing the total to £51.6bn, according to Countrywide’s latest figures. Meanwhile, back in 2007, the UK’s total rent bill was just £22.6bn.

Millennials – born between 1977 and 1995 – have been paying the majority of the country’s rent bill for the past 11 years, coughing up more than £30bn annually since 2014. This amount has actually fallen by 2% in the past year as more members of this generation have become homeowners, although compared to previous generations millennials are still buying properties much later and paying rent for longer.

Jonny 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 less become homeowners.”

A shifting perception

The capital saw rents rise by 3.3% in January, which was the highest monthly growth rate seen in almost two years – tenants in London can now expect to fork out an average £1,704 compared to £1,649 in December.

The amount being paid for mortgages has dropped over the past 10 years, from a height of £63.8bn in 2008 to £57.4bn in 2017, with low interest rates and cheap fixed-rate deals keeping costs low for homeowners with mortgages.

This shift between homeownership and renting in the UK indicates a reshaping of the property market, with buy-to-let landlords seeing an increase in demand for rental homes despite the recent government curbs and tax increases on the market, as well as tougher lending restrictions. According to the English Housing Survey, a record 46% of 25- to 34-year-olds rent their homes, with the number of homeowners in this age group contracting significantly from 57% in 2007 to 37% now.