The number of people looking to rent a place to live in has climbed markedly in the last year according to the UK’s largest letting agent and property services group.

According to Countrywide, their network of over 300 branches saw an increase of 24% in new tenant registrations last year compared to 2010.

Covering brands like Hamptons International, Bridgfords, Slater, Hogg & Howison, Taylors, Dixons and Fulfords that makes over 275,000 new tenants.

In London the rise was even more marked with a 35% increase in new tenants registering.

The demand is becoming so great that the number of properties being rented out as soon as they come on the market before they are even advertised is rising says Countrywide.

Annual increase in new tenants registering for rental accommodation

Region

2011 % increase over 2010

London

35%

North

22%

Scotland

22%

South

21%

Total

24%

As a result of this demand the number of days that a rental property remains on the books has also dropped with the average across the board being 13.6 days compared to 2010’s 14.8 days.

Countrywide also found that, although cohabiting couple were still the largest group looking to rent the number of families doing so is on the rise.

We are in the midst of a rental boom as renting has become the new norm. Despite gradual improvements in property levels, it is not enough to satisfy the ever-increasing levels of demand. With a record number of tenants entering the private rental sector, there is a vast shortage of properties available in all areas of UK, which could potentially fuel a steady rise in rent prices throughout 2012.

Nick Dunning, Commercial Director at Countrywide.

Over half (53.1%) of new landlords were in the business for the first time or had small portfolios. Countrywide have reported an marked increase in the availability of competitively priced Buy To Let mortgages and market activity and lending has increased.

Whilst buy-to-let lending has grown, it is still only at 30% of the total buy-to-let lending that we were seeing at the peak of the market. In November's housing strategy, the government announced some measures to tackle the problem of empty homes; with over 720,000 empty properties in the UK. We welcome any Government support to encourage investment and the transfer of these properties to the buy-to-let sector in order to alleviate the current supply and demand imbalance.

Nigel Stockton, Countrywide Financial Services Director

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