The economic downturn has meant a slowdown in the number of rent reviews being carried out — that’s according to Fleurets annual rental survey, writes Gemma McKenna. Tough economic times have also led to a “general downward pressure on rents,” said David Sutcliffe, director at the firm. Sutcliffe said there had been “relatively few” new lettings of freehouses and high street bars, along with a “significant decline” in rent review activity, as landlords realised the “limited opportunity for rental growth”. “Landlords aren’t actioning rent reviews, or if they are it’s being quite contentious and therefore many haven’t been settled,” he added. The statistics showed there is still growth in the London market when it comes to traditional pub rents — the City of London saw a 23% increase in rent over the last five years — which along with the Midlands represents the highest levels in the country, thought most of this growth pre-dates the current downturn. The City of London also saw the largest increase in the past 12 months from £79,688 to £87,250. Traditional pubs in the south-east still pay the highest rent nationally — at £52,252, while those in the north have fallen by 2.2% over the last 5 years to a low of £39,801. The capital’s high street bars continue to produce the highest rents in the country, although Fleurets says “upward only rent reviews can produce a skewed analysis in a declining market”. The West End saw a 16% increase over the last five years to £230,897 in 2009. Elsewhere regional rents at high street bars have been relatively consistent, albeit well-below inflation over the last five years. The south-west and Wales have shown a 8.5% decline in rents over last five years. All areas were above £100,000 in 2004 and show little difference in 2009. Fleurets 25th annual rental survey is based on data gathered on high street bars, free of tie lettings and rent reviews.