Buy To Let Updated:
Landlords look set for a profitable 2012 after it was revealed rents in England and Wales rose for the first time ever in January.
According to LSL Property Services, the rental market has sprung back into life early, with the average rent rising by 0.1% to £712 per month.
It is the first time since the firm began compiling the index that rents have risen on a monthly basis in January, and is also the first monthly rise reported in three months.
As a result, annual rental inflation increased to 4.3% from 4% in December, meaning average monthly rent is now £30 higher than a year ago.
The data revealed that rents rose the fastest on a monthly basis in the West Midlands and South West, where they increased by 1.8% and 1.5% respectively.
Rents rose by 0.8% in London, where they have only fallen once in the past 13 months.
However, rents fell in four regions, with the biggest declines being seen in the East of England and Wales , where they fell by 1.7% and 1.5% respectively.
In the last 12 months rents have risen in all regions of England and Wales but one.
The largest annual increases have been in the capital where rents have soared by 6.3%, while the North East is the only region to have seen a fall, of 0.7%.
David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, said the normal seasonal slowdown had not occurred this Christmas.
"The rental market burst back into life unseasonably early in January, with tenants on the move trying to take advantage of what is usually a quieter period for the rental market," he added.
"The depth of the underlying demand sustained a higher level of competition for rental property during the Christmas period, preventing more severe falls in rents than we'd normally see during the period.
"In January, activity has already moved up a gear in many parts of the UK , pushing rents up once more in a small, but significant rise."
Although mortgage lending has shown signs of improving in recent months, Mr Brown pointed out that transactions remain at almost half their historic levels.
"The increasing dependency on rental accommodation will drive further rent rises over the long-term," he added.
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