A record number of landlords are now exiting the market, letting agents say.
The ARLA Propertymark Private Rented Sector Report shows that the number of landlords exiting the market rose to five per branch in April, up from four in March, the highest since the data started being recorded in 2015.
The figure had risen for the first time in March after sitting at three landlords consistently since April 2017.
The number of prospective tenants registered per member branch also rose, from 66 to 72 between March and April, the strongest demand since September 2017 when there 79 registered per branch.
However, supply was flat at 179 properties on average per branch.
In comparison, in April 2017 agents managed a similar 185 per branch but in April 2016 they managed 185, and 193 were recorded in 2015.
The research also showed the number of tenants experiencing rent hikes increased to 26% in April – the highest since September 2017 when 27% of landlords put rents up for tenants.
This was up 24% year-on-year.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “The barrage of legislative changes landlords have faced over the past few years, combined with political uncertainty, has meant the buy-to-let market is becoming increasingly unattractive to investors.
“Landlords are either hiking rents for tenants or choosing to exit the market altogether to avoid facing the increased costs incurred. This in turn is hitting renters most, at a time when a huge number of people rely on the rented sector, and leaves us with the question of where will these people find alternative homes?
“As demand for private rented homes massively continues to outstrip supply, the Government can no longer divert its attention from the broken housing market.
“The recent news that the Government is regulating the industry is a step in the right direction, but ultimately we just need more homes.”