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Written by rosalind renshaw

Rents have risen for the second consecutive month, while the supply of rental properties tumbled by 4.2%, says the latest FindaProperty lettings survey.

Average asking rents rose by 0.7% in March to £820 per month. While 6% less than this time a year ago, the supply of properties available to rent is the lowest since October 2008. 

The rental picture is also patchy: in London, rents are higher than this time last year, but in four regions, rents have been declining over the last four months.

The fall in stock comes as ‘accidental’ landlords return to the sales market – and as results of a survey taken at this month’s ARLA conference were released. More than half (58%) of respondents at the event cited insufficient supply of rental stock as the biggest challenge facing the sector.

Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said: “This is a very serious issue. At the end of last year we highlighted that a lack of properties will be a defining factor in the housing market in 2010 and our member agents across the country have confirmed this opinion as fact.”

He called for Government support of the private rented sector, including incentives for improvements on older properties, assistance for landlords in gaining mortgage finance, and regulation to drive unethical letting agents out of the industry.