There are currently seven people chasing every room that is available to rent, with demand more than doubling during the past year, research suggested today.
House share website Spareroom.co.uk said it was receiving an average of 7.2 applications for every room that it advertised, the highest level since it launched six years ago.
The group said the number of applicants per room had been steadily increasing during the past 12 months and was now more than double the level of 3.4 renters chasing every room seen in November 2009.
It added that even six months ago, it was only receiving around 4.5 applicants for every room it advertised.
The situation has been caused by a shortage of rental properties coming on to the market, at a time when demand is rising as people put off buying a home due to falling house prices and problems in the mortgage market.
It is a considerable turnaround compared with two years ago, when there were only 2.1 applicants per room, as a result of the market being flooded with so-called accidental landlords, who were letting out their property after being unable to sell it.
Matt Hutchinson, director of Spareroom.co.uk, said: "These latest rental figures show how tough the climate currently is for people looking to rent in the UK, with a large number of applicants fighting for the few new rental properties coming onto the market every month, and rental prices being pushed up by the lack of stock.
"Tenant demand for the best properties is so strong at the moment that average rents in some areas have risen by as much as 20% to 30% compared to last year, and with no sign that the shortage of stock is likely to ease any time soon, the upward pressure on rents is likely to continue."
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