Thousands of buy to let tenants are in serious rent arrears, according to the latest figures from a leading letting agent.
Around 67,000 private tenants are at least two months behind with their rents – an increase of 3.4% in the last quarter of 2013.
LSL Property Services, which compiled the report, felt the figure was a surprise as rent arrears had declined through the year.
Despite the increase in tenants owing cash to their landlords, the figure was still 26%n down on 12 months ago.
Paul Jardine, director and receiver at Templeton LPA, part of the LSL group, said: “After a year of dramatic changes, the closing stages of 2013 have been no less intense for anyone struggling with the monthly rent. For many people the festive period has provided a particularly difficult ending to a long and challenging year.
“Household budgets will remain under intense pressure in 2014 – the situation for many tenants is not easy by any means. But even with the strains of Christmas and New Year, severe rent arrears are in a much better state than they were just six months ago. That could point towards fewer people facing eviction in months to come.”
Meanwhile, surveyor Connells reported property valuations increased by 35% during 2013.
The firm explained buy to let was the main market driver, with property investment valuations up 6% in the year.
Corporate services director John Bagshaw said: “Buy-to-let is the exceptional success of the housing market recovery. Landlords have recently made use of lower mortgage rates in the same way as many remortgagors, but have also demonstrated steady progress every year since the darkest parts of the recession.
“Demand for rental property is driving this. While the purchase market is accelerating rapidly, half a decade of setbacks for first time buyers will stoke strong demand from landlords seeking to keep up with the scramble for homes to let.”