The number of tenants searching for rented accommodation is outstripping the number of properties coming onto the market, new figures from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) show.
During the first three months of the year, 56 per cent of ARLA members' offices reported that there were more house-hunting tenants than there were properties available for them, said the organisation.
Ian Potter, ARLA operations manager, commented: "In many parts of the country our members are seeing an unprecedented level of demand for rental homes."
One effect of high demand could be that once tenants find a property, they are more inclined to stay in it for longer.
Another ARLA survey carried out earlier this year found that the average length of a tenancy across the UK currently stands at 19.3 months, compared to just 16.5 months in 2009.
This trend could make it increasingly important for buy-to-let owners to take out landlord contents insurance, as items in the property could be at greater risk of damage.
"This increase in the length of tenancies will inevitably lead to greater wear and tear in rented accommodation and fewer opportunities for ‘downtime' between tenancies for landlords to make improvements," said Mr Potter.
Meanwhile, rising demand is also helping to push up rental incomes for landlords.
According to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services, released this week, the average rent in England and Wales in April 2012 was £709 per month, a monthly rise of 0.5 per cent.
This was the first rise in rents for three months, with prices in April 2.4 per cent higher than during the same month last year.
David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said: "After absorbing the impact of the stamp-duty deadline on tenant demand, the rental market began to heat up in April.
"As fewer tenants rushed to leave the sector, competition for rental accommodation intensified, and rents rose correspondingly."
Posted by Brandon Parker