The rental market sprang back into life early this year, increasing 0.1% to £712 per month and the first rise in three months.
However, rental arrears hit a high of 10.7%, reflecting the poor economic backdrop.
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Annual rental inflation increased to 4.3% from 4% in December, a £30 rise in the average monthly rent in the past year, according to figures from LSL Property Services.
Rents rose the fastest on a monthly basis in the West Midlands and South West, where they increased by 1.8% and 1.5% respectively.
In London, rents rose by 0.8%, where they have only fallen once in the past 13 months. However, rents fell in four regions, with the biggest declines in the East of England and Wales, where they fell by 1.7% and 1.5% respectively.
London recorded the highest annual rental rises at 6.3%, followed by the East of England where rents rose by 5.9%, but fell in the North East by 0.7%
David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, said the depth of the underlying demand for tenancies over Christmas brought greater competition for rental property and halted the usual downward pressure on rents.
“In January, activity has already moved up a gear in many parts of the UK, pushing rents up once more in a small, but significant rise,” said Brown.
“Mortgage lending has shown signs of improving in recent months, but transactions remain at almost half their historic levels, and the increasing dependency on rental accommodation will drive further rent rises over the long-term.”