Demand for rental properties in the UK fell 19% month on month to a two year low at the end of 2016, the latest figures show.
The data from the Association of Residential Letting Agents reveals that in December 2016 there were 26 prospective tenants registered per member branch, the lowest level since records began in January 2015.
However the ARLA report points out that the decline is in line with seasonal expectations. In December 2015 there were 29 prospective tenants registered per branch, a figure which dropped by 15% month on month.
The data also shows that the number of letting agents witnessing rent hikes for tenants increased by 3% to 19% in December, while in December 2015 rises fell from 23% to 18%.
The number of rental properties managed per branch increased from 185 in November to 188 in December and the report says that while supply is still very low, this indicates a broadly positive picture for renters in the short term.
Following last year’s increases in taxes for landlords, including stamp duty and capital gains tax, almost half, some 46% of agents expect to see supply decrease this year.
‘Although December’s figures could indicate a bright future for renters, with the Government’s impending ban on letting agent fees, the future is actually rather bleak for the UK’s renters,’ said David Cox, ARLA managing director.
‘Although we saw demand fall and supply rise slightly last month, these are in line with seasonal expectations and is what we expect to see in December. If the Government goes ahead with an outright ban on fees, tenants will unfortunately be the ultimate victims, as costs are recouped for the vital services fees cover,’ he added.