By Daniel Hunter

Official data from LSL Property Services suggests that the cost of renting a home in England and Wales increased in January.

According to the data average rental costs rose by 0.1%, up to £712 a month, from December's figures.

It is the first increase in January that the firm has ever seen.

"The rental market burst back into life unseasonably early in January, with tenants on the move trying to take advantage of what is usually a quieter period for the rental market," said David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services.

"The depth of the underlying demand sustained a higher level of competition for rental property during the Christmas period, preventing more severe falls in rents than we'd normally see during the period."

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