Rents fell for the first time in 11 months in December, with the Christmas period coinciding with a surge in people struggling to pay their landlords.
The average UK rent fell by 1.6% to £684 - the lowest average since July 2010, figures from LSL Property Services show.
Despite the fall, the cost of renting is still well up on the same point 12 months previously, with average rents rising by 3.8% between December 2009 and December 2010.
The most marked fall was seen in Wales, where rents fell by 2.6%, while average rents in the south east and London declined by 2.5% and 2.3% respectively.
Not all areas saw declines, however, as there were increases of 2.2% and 1.7% respectively in the west midlands and south west.
"December is traditionally a slower month for the rental market. Many prospective tenants are either away from home, or prioritise Christmas spending over budgeting to move," said David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services.
"This year, the added arctic weather temporarily dampened demand, deterring many renters from hitting the streets and viewing properties."
While stopping some people from moving, the Christmas period also saw a spike in the number of people paying their rent late or not paying at all.
Some 11.7% of all UK rent was unpaid or late by the end of last month, rising from 9.7% in November.
In total, unpaid rent was £276 million in December, the highest amount for a year.
Mr Brown said that rising unpaid rent was a seasonal phenomenon, but that tenants have been under steady pressure in recent months.
"Arrears have been rising since October as public spending cuts start to bite in many areas of the country.
"With unemployment set to increase this year, and rents likely to rise once more in the spring, more tenants will be at risk of falling behind with rent payments," he added.
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