Tenant arrears down by £6 million

But average rent in England and Wales is 3.5% higher than in May last year

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The Independent Online

Rent rises in May were slower than recent months, according to the latest figures from LSL Property Services which owns the UK's largest lettings agent network including Your Move and Reeds Rains.

Total amount of rent late or unpaid has improved by £6 million, with £276 million in May compared to £282m in April, or roughly 8 per cent of all rent across England and Wales.

The report also suggests that the average rent in England and Wales rose by 0.1 per cent since April to £737 per month which makes rents up 3.5 per cent up on an annual basis with 5 per cent more new tenants than in May 2012.

Six out of ten regions saw rents rise in May. The fastest increases were in the East Midlands, up 0.4%, followed by the North West (0.3 per cent ). London, the South East and the East of England all experienced growth of 0.2 per cent but rents in Wales fell by 0.7% and in Yorkshire and the Humber by 0.3% compared to April.

On an annual basis, rents in London are now 7.2 per cent higher than a year ago.  Next fastest was Wales, where rents are up 5.2 per cent  since May last year.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, said: "Despite a strong increase in new tenants, rents rose more slowly than other household costs. But that demand would have been even stronger had it not been for a recent spurt in the number of first-time buyers. Looking further ahead, sustaining the increase in new buyers will depend on how many tenants are able to build big enough deposits to get a mortgage. With wage growth so weak compared to inflation and house price growth, it looks like deposits will become less affordable – which will keep demand for rented accommodation high.

“Tenants are gradually paying down rental arrears. It’s a clear long-term trend, despite the occasional more difficult month. Landlords will be equally happy that tenants facing financial trouble have found an opportunity to pay down arrears.  But while this month will come as a relief for everyone, in the longer-run it’s still unemployment levels and wage growth which matter the most to the affordability of rent."