Rents nudged down across England and Wales by just 0.1% in February – but they were still 3.3% higher than the year before.
According to LSL Property Services, which owns national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains, the average rent is now £731 per month.
Despite the monthly drop at a national level, rents grew on a monthly basis in half the regions.
The strongest monthly rental inflation was a 1.8% rise in Wales, followed by the North-East where rents were 0.9% higher than in January. London’s rents also returned to growth – rising by 0.5%.
The fastest falls were in the North-West at 1.3%, followed by a 1.1% drop in the East of England and a monthly fall of 0.7% in the South-West.
Only one region saw rents fall on an annual basis: the average rent in the South-West is now 1.2% less than a year ago. Rents in London showed by far the fastest annual growth, rising by 6.2%. The South-East saw the next biggest year-on-year rise of 3.3%, while in Wales rents were 2.9% higher than last February.
David Brown, commercial director of LSL, said: “The rental market hasn’t yet burst into life, but we’re seeing more vitality than last year’s timid February market when tenant demand was impacted by the rush to buy homes before the Stamp Duty deadline.”
He did not rule out more rent hikes, adding: “The supply of rental homes will have to increase considerably to prevent monthly rent rises when the rental market re-enters its traditional peak season.”
Total arrears in February were £248m, down from £269m in January. This equates to 7.4% of all rent across England and Wales, compared to 8.1% of all rent in January.