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LSL Property Services have published the findings of their latest survey into rental prices in England and Wales. The data suggests that the cost of renting fell for 2 consecutive months in November and December, after rising constantly for 10 months before that.

The average monthly rent in December was £711 – a drop of 0.8% compared with the previous month. When compared with December 2010, however, average rents had increased by 4%.

LSL also found that the number of tenants falling behind with rent had gone up as a result of festive spending – 10.7% of all rent was paid late or not paid at all by the end of December, up from 9.3% in November.

Difficulties facing landlords have also been cited by Tim Hyatt, president of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla). He said:

“It is more critical than ever to take references and conduct thorough research before signing a tenancy agreement,” adding “seeking advice from a professional, licensed letting agent is the best way to ensure tenants and landlords’ rights are protected.”

Matt Hutchinson, director at Spareroom.co.uk, said that talk of a peak in rental costs may be premature, instead describing the latest data as a “temporary blip.” He stressed that “demand is still significantly outstripping supply of new rental stock,” adding that “while December was a quieter month for the rental market, January and February are typically two of the busiest months.”

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