Rents fell – but only just – for the third consecutive month in January, property firm LSL has reported.
The firm, which bases its data on actual rent prices achieved and which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, said that average rents in England and Wales slipped 0.3%.
However, the rate of decrease slowed to a third of that in December, and rents are still 2.8% higher than a year ago, equivalent to an extra £20 per month.
With large regional variations, the largest fall was in the South-East where rents dropped 1.5%, followed by Yorkshire & the Humber with a 0.9% monthly fall.
By contrast, rents in the East Midlands rose by 1.2% and in the West Midlands by 0.9%.
On an annual basis, rents in London went up the most, rising by 5.2%, an increase of £54 per month.
The total annual return on a rental property stood at 5.7% in January, said LSL. However, its sums assume a rise in property prices.
The figure represents an average return of £9,369 with rental income of £7,840 and a capital gain of £1,529. It does not include tax, fees, expenditure or loss of income due to any voids.
The total amount of rent late or unpaid fell back to levels not seen for three months. Total arrears in January were £261m, down from £326m in December. This equates to 8.1% of all rent across England and Wales, while December’s arrears represented 10.1% of all rent.
Average rents in London were £1,086; East of England £745; South-West £638; Yorkshire and the Humber £536; North-West £577; Wales £559; South-East £744; North-East £520; West Midlands £570; East Midlands £547.