The amount of rent tenants paid their landlords dropped for the first time in a decade last year.
Research by Hamptons International estimated that tenants paid £59.1bn in rent in 2018, £1.9bn less than in 2017.
It is the first such fall in a decade but renters are still paying £29.9bn more than ten years ago.
During this period the number of households privately renting has grown by 1.7m.
The Countrywide brand’s data showed that rents started the year on an upward trend in most regions, although at a slower rate than in 2018.
In January the average cost of a new let rose 0.6% year-on-year – compared with 2.4% in January 2018 – to £963 per month.
The largest increase was in the east of England where average rents were up 2% to £943 a month, while tenants in the south saw a 0.5% drop.
Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “The total amount of rent paid by tenants in Great Britain fell for the first time in over a decade last year.
“Despite average rents rising 0.4% in 2018, fewer people renting homes meant the total rent bill shrank by £1.9bn since 2017.
“Over the past 12 months rental growth in Great Britain has slowed.
“Rental growth has fallen from 2.4% in January 2018 to 0.6% last month.
“The slowdown over the past year was mainly driven by London, but rents are now gradually starting to rise again in the capital.
“Meanwhile the south-east and south-west both recorded falling rents last month.”
|Greater London||£ 1,714||£ 1,704||0.60%|
|Inner London||£ 2,644||£ 2,612||1.20%|
|Outer London||£ 1,537||£ 1,531||0.30%|
|South East||£ 1,037||£ 1,042||-0.50%|
|South West||£ 784||£ 787||-0.50%|
|East||£ 943||£ 925||2.00%|
|Midlands||£ 678||£ 669||1.30%|
|North||£ 625||£ 623||0.40%|
|Wales||£ 652||£ 646||0.90%|
|Scotland||£ 639||£ 634||0.70%|
|Great Britain||£ 963||£ 958||0.60%|
This research is echoed by HomeLet figures showing that the average rent in the UK increased 2.5% annually last month to £932.
The tenant referencing provider said when London is excluded, the average newly agreed rent in the UK is now £775 per month, up by 2% on last year.
HomeLet found that the region with the largest year-on-year increase in newly agreed rents was the south-west, with monthly rents up 5.1% to £817.
The north-east was the only region of the 12 monitored by HomeLet to record a fall, down 0.6% to £534.
London has the most expensive rents at £1,588, up 3.7% on January last year.