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New tenant levels leap 37% in 2010

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Demand for rental properties has rocketed in the last year, with the number of new tenants up 37% in 2010, according to Countrywide.

New tenants totalled more than 200,000 in 2010, the highest level that Countrywide has recorded since its records began in 2003.

Its figures revealed that new tenant registrations increased 14% in Q4 2010 alone compared to the same period of 2009.

In addition, the time it takes to let a rental property has dropped to an average of 15 days, five days less than a year ago.

Countrywide’s research showed that there were an average of 4.4 tenants for each property across the UK in Q4 2010. The South West saw the greatest demand with an average of 5.9 tenants.

The situation has been exacerbated by the average number of properties available to let falling by 29%, according to Countrywide’s agents.

Two-bedroom houses remained the most sought after property type last quarter, while the number of three- and four-bedroom properties entering the rental market increased 3% in Q4, up 2% on the same period of 2009.

John Hards, co-managing director of Countrywide Residential Lettings, said: “The rental market has seen record levels of demand in 2010. In the final quarter, whilst we experienced the traditional slowdown, the continuing demand saw many properties in prime locations with new tenants secured within hours of coming onto the market.”

He added that the demographic of tenants was shifting, with a rising number of professional tenants across the country, as affordability issues leave homebuyers unable to sell or raise capital to buy a home.

Hards said: “These wider economic issues are reflected in our rental stock, with a growing number of three- and four-bedroom family homes entering the market. But the greatest demand is for two-bedroom apartments and houses which are still in short supply.”

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