Rental demand reached a record high of 88 prospective tenants per branch in January, but the number of properties sank to the lowest level for seven months, according to ARLA Propertymark.
The lettings agent body reports that demand from prospective tenants rose by 57% from December when there was an average of 56 tenants per branch.
Year on year demand from tenants was 21% higher, as in January 2019 there were an average of 73 registered per branch.
However, the number of properties managed per branch dropped from 206 in December to 191 in January.
This is the lowest number since July last year when it stood at 184.
Year on year the supply of properties fell from 197 in January 2019, but was higher than January 2018 when it was 184.
The number of agents witnessing rents increase also rose to 42% from 32% in December and from 26% in January 2019.
ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox says: “This month’s results are a huge blow for tenants.
“With demand increasing by more than half, but rental supply falling, rent costs are unsurprisingly being pushed up.
“Our recent research found that tenants could miss out on nearly half a million properties as more landlords exit the traditional private rented sector and turn towards short-term lets which will only serve to worsen the problem for those seeking longer term rental accommodation.”
He adds: “With the Spring Budget around the corner, it’s important that the Government works to make the private rented sector attractive to landlords again, rather than introducing complex legislation which ultimately squeezes the sector and leaves tenants worse off.”