There are some 3.4 million rented homes in England alone, a 40 per cent rise over the past five years. Many desperate tenants are now falling victim to rogue landlords and greedy lettings agents who are cashing in.
The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (Rics) Residential Lettings Survey shows that 25 per cent more chartered surveyors reported a rise in demand than a fall. This rental boom has seen rents soar, with the average rent in England and Wales up 0.6 per cent to £705 per month in July, according to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services. Tenants in London are finding life even tougher, with rents hitting a record £1,009 per month in July, marking an annual increase of 7.1 per cent.
"It is a landlord's market and this makes life tough for those trying to secure rented accommodation," says David Newnes, the director of LSL Property Services. "With demand far outstripping the supply, it's a real challenge for tenants to secure the properties they want. It's becoming rarer for rental properties to be let for less than their asking prices – and in many cases, agreed rents are exceeding them."
With so many people being forced to rent, more are finding themselves stuck with unscrupulous agents and landlords with nowhere to turn. Housing and homelessness charity Shelter has seen overall complaints about landlords increase by 23 per cent over the past 12 months.
With tenants in such a vulnerable position, the sector is crying out for some big changes. watch this space