The gap between supply and demand for rental properties widened in January with more prospective tenants than stock coming onto the market.
ARLA Propertymark members reported 70 prospective tenants per branch in January, compared to just 59 in December, but supply dropped from 200 to 184 over the same period.
The last time supply reached a level this low was October 2017, when it stood at 182.
The research, based on responses from 361 members, showed 19% of tenants experienced rent hikes in January, compared with 16% in December, but this is down from 23% in the same month of 2017.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “This month’s results indicate that renters are in for a rough ride in 2018.
“Housing stock is falling as rising taxes continue to force established landlords out of the market and deter entry into the sector – and the volume of renters is increasing as the cost of buying a home is moving further out of reach for many.
“The fact that one in five tenants are experiencing rent increases is just another blow. Ultimately, until the prospect of investing in the buy-to-let market is more attractive for prospective landlords, and stock subsequently increases, tenants will continue to feel the burn.”
The rising rents are reflected in data from Your Move.
The agent’s England & Wales Rental Tracker for February shows annual growth for rents increased from 2.3% in December to 2.5% in January.
The average rent in England and Wales was £829, with the north west and east midlands growing fastest, up 2.9% annually to £636 and £652 a month respectively.
London remained the most expensive part of the country to rent a property with rents at £1,276 a month on average, but this is down 0.8% annually.
The biggest percentage fall was in the north east, where rents declined by 2% in the 12 months to January to £534 per month. It remains the cheapest place to rent in the UK
Martyn Alderton, national lettings director at Your Move, said: “The new year has started in a positive fashion for the rental market in England and Wales.
“With more tenants seeing renting as a long-term option, landlords, with their letting agent’s support, should identify features to encourage longer tenancies.
“For example, our recent tenant survey has found that more than a quarter of tenants would pay on average £24 more a month to live with their pets.
“Tenants are also prepared to pay more for communal living extras, such as a shared garden, childcare facilities or a gym.”