Buy to let was buoyant last year as landlords rented out 692,766 homes – up 12% on the previous 12 months.
The number of properties up for rent increased every quarter – with June to September surging by a massive 14.46%.
Well-documented problems in selling homes and raising mortgages contributed to a drop in the number of properties marketed for sale – the total was down 12,000 to 769,077 properties.
The research, by credit rating giant Experian, was based on property statistics partly derived from trials and historic data from the firm’s new tenant referencing service for landlords.
Besides crunching numbers, the data also revealed:
Unsurprisingly December and especially Christmas is the least favourite time to market a home for sale or rent, while summer was the most popular.
May was the busiest month for homeowners instructing estate agents and August was busiest for buy to let.
The firm reckons the summer rush to rent is partly due to students looking for new homes after receiving their exam results and confirming their university courses.
The most active buy to let regions were Wales and the West Midlands, which both reported a growth in rentals of 20%. The West Midlands also topped the charts for the most homes for sale – bucking the downward trend with an increase of 12%.
Buy to let is more dominant than home sales in London, with 20% of all rental activity but only 10% of house sales.
Jonathan Westley, managing director of consumer information services at Experian, said: “This insight shows that homeowners may be using renting as a back-up plan if they are unable to sell or alternatively some may still consider property a long-term investment.
“Being able to paint a picture of movers and get a unique insight into habits and trends is a valuable tool for companies from financial services to utilities.
“Moving house can be a catalyst for a consumer to switch to ensure they are getting the best deal from their suppliers.”