Rents have risen gently across most regions of the UK but worries are growing over the longer-term economic landscape.
HomeLet’s latest lettings market index shows the UK's average rent is now £981, a 2.9 per cent increase on last year. When London is excluded, the UK's average rent is £839, showing an increase of 5.8 per cent.
Nine of the 12 regions monitored by HomeLet showed a year-on-year rise with the South West seeing the largest increase for the fifth month in a row - 8.0 per cent.
Rents in London continue to fall with a 3.9 per cent drop between January 2020 and January 2021 - the eighth decrease in annual variance in subsequent months.
Rents in Northern Ireland are down 2.1 per cent on last year and 11 of the 21 London borough groupings monitored by HomeLet show an annual fall.
Meanwhile, last month the average tenancy before a renter moves to a new home was two years and nine months - marginally higher than last year when the figure was two years and eight months.
HomeLet chief executive Andy Halstead says: "We're seeing the value of the private rented sector's responsiveness and the crucial role it plays in supporting the changing needs for people across the UK.
“The data continues to show that demand remains exceptionally high in many areas. The needs of tenants have shifted throughout the pandemic, creating upward pressure on locations that offer more space, both inside and outside the property.”
He continues: ”Whilst rents are increasing, the expectation is that unemployment will increase further in the summer, undoubtedly leading to some tenants being unable to pay their rent.
“ … There are still millions of people on the government's furlough schemes, and many will need to move home. That's why I think it's essential that we continue to carry out checks on people who are on furlough whilst still offering rent protection for eligible tenants.
"Whilst the broader economic outlook is uncertain, the private rented sector is exceptionally resilient. We're now seeing the optimism of the vaccine rollout, but safety must remain the priority. The industry is working more remotely, and things like online viewings will continue to play an essential part in the tenancy process.”