Figures from the Association of Residential Letting Agents, now formally known as ARLA Propertymark, suggest there has been a surge in demand for rental accommodation since the New Year.
In January there were 34 prospective tenants registered per member branch; this is up 31 per cent from December when there was a seasonal lull and just 26 prospective tenants at each branch.
A year earlier, in January 2016, there were 31 tenants registered per branch, meaning in 12 months demand for rental accommodation has risen by 10 per cent.
The number of rental properties managed by letting agents increased in January. In December there were 188 properties managed per branch, whereas in January there were three per cent more with 193 per branch.
In January 2016, there were 12 per cent less, with 173 properties managed per branch.
Almost a quarter of agents saw tenants experiencing rent hikes in January; this is down year-on-year, as 30 per cent of agents witnessed rent increases in January 2016.
"When supply and demand are out of kilter, as they have been for so long now, the market isn't balanced and fair for tenants, and rent prices will just continue to rise," warns David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive.
"Worse still, should the government decide to implement an out-right ban on letting agent fees when the consultation takes place, the situation will likely get worse for tenants. The costs of the vital services letting agent fees cover will need to be recouped, and this will get passed on to renters in inflated rental prices," he adds.
"This, combined with new landlords' tax, particularly the upcoming changes to mortgage interest release, means the rental market is far from reaching equilibrium."
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