By Marcus Leach

A survey by LSL Property Services has revealed that gazumping has forced the average cost of rent to tenants up in England and Wales, with the average now at £696.

The figures for May of this year are due to rising tenant demand, which has seen above the average asking prices for rent.

It is the fourth consecutive month that the cost of renting a home in England and Wales has gone up according to the figures.

Further to that the survey revealed more than one in ten tenants were either late paying rent, or missed paying altogether in May.

LSL said that rent has gone up 4.4% from the same time in 2010, although they are major regional variations to this figure, with London seeing the biggest rise of nearly 8%.

"The rocketing cost of living, combined with ongoing difficulty first-time buyers are experiencing in obtaining a mortgage, is increasing the number reliant on rental accommodation," said David Newnes, of LSL.

"With the fierce competition for homes, rental gazumping is becoming more commonplace and properties are being let beyond asking price, putting further upwards pressure on the market. For tenants, unable to buy, renting is becoming less affordable as demand booms. Rents are increasing at twice the rate of wages."

LSL calculated that 11.5% of UK rental payments were unpaid or late in May.

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