Buy To Let Updated:
In March, the average rent in England and Wales fell by 0.3% to £705 per month, a decline from £707 in February, according to LSL Property Services.
The biggest falls were in the South West and the East Midlands, with rents falling by 1.5% and 1.4% respectively. Rents also dipped in London, falling by 0.3% - its second monthly decline in the first quarter of 2012.
Rents rose in two regions, increasing by 0.7% in the South East and 0.6% in the East of England.
Despite the monthly drop, rents continue to rise on an annual basis, being 2.7% higher than a year ago.
London rents have increased by 4.9% annually, making it the region with the fastest long-term growth. In fact, despite recent declines, London's average rent was 0.2% higher in March than at the end of 2011.
The next biggest annual increase was in the East of England, where rents rose by 3.4%. On an annual basis, rents have only fallen in two locations, dropping by 2.2% in the East Midlands, and 0.4% in the North West.
"The recent dip in rents will be welcome news for tenants, with the cost of renting at its most affordable level since July," David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, said.
"The rental market was still feeling the knock-on effect from the stamp duty deadline in March, with an increased number of tenants rushing to leave the sector in the first part of the year, easing tenant competition."
However, the trend of falling rent is not likely to be a long term one.
"Drop-off in rents is likely to be short-lived," added Mr Brown.
"With the passing of the stamp duty deadline increasing the cost of moving, and banks' funding conditions likely to limit high value mortgage lending to first-time buyers, would-be buyers will be more reliant than ever on rented accommodation,"
Separate figures have revealed that the number of tenants in arrears also fell for the second month in a row.
8.7% of all rent was unpaid or late in March, down from 9.3% in March, with the value of unpaid rent amounting to £267 million – down from £285 million in February.
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