Buyers forced to rent

In the survey, a net 18 per cent of chartered surveyors reported an increase in demand from tenants, the highest this year, up from 12 per cent in the first quarter of 2002.

The number of landlords wanting to let property remained high for this quarter, with a net 32 per cent of RICS members reporting a rise, down only slightly from 37 per cent in the last quarter. New instructions from private landlords are still on the up, accounting for 89 per cent of the total in this quarter. This indicates buy-to-let investors are still dominating the market, many hoping to attract first-time buyers unable to buy because of high prices, and the rush of students looking to rent at the beginning of the academic year.

Rents are down for the third quarter in a row, although figures indicate a slight easing in the pace of decline, with a net 6 per cent reporting a fall, compared to 10 per cent in the last quarter. Falls in rent were only noticeable in London and the South East, with the average monthly rent for a two bedroom flat in inner London at £1,733, down from £1,842 in the last quarter. In all other regions, modest rent rises were reported, although there are differences in regional rental trends with a typical monthly rent for a two bedroom flat at £328 in the North East, £400 in Wales and £500 in the South West.

With large numbers of homes still becoming available to rent, competition between landlords is high and rents are not expected to pick up towards the end of the year. For the next quarter, a net 12 per cent of surveyors predict another slight drop, compared to the last quarter where no surveyors predicted a drop, However the falls are only expected in London, the South East and the South West.