"New tenants include those homeowners who were forced to sell their home during the last year either due to financial instability or a job-move. And many people now in a position to buy are struggling to find the right property, as there is also a shortage of both properties for sale and realistic mortgages," said Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA.
"This rise in tenants is a positive sign for the industry, as it indicates increased market movement. It also shows that many more people will learn the benefits of living in rental accommodation.
"However, as demand exceeds supply we are faced with a new challenge – how to provide enough good-quality rental properties to meet this demand. These figures confirm our long-held view that a strong Private Rented Sector (PRS) will be fundamental in meeting the accommodation needs of future generations. But without significant government support, the sector will likely struggle."
In August 2007 53% of ARLA members surveyed felt that there were more tenants than properties – but this figure then dropped, reaching a low of 10% in February 2009. The number of available properties began increasing again last quarter.
ARLA research for the fourth quarter also shows that the period for which properties are unoccupied has fallen once again, with the average void period for the UK down from four weeks to 3.9 weeks, as tenants snap up available properties quickly.
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