By Max Clarke

The annual rent inflation rate last month hit 4.4%, pushing property rental prices up to a record high of £692.

“The rental market is heating up as thousands of would‐be tenants have taken advantage of the weather and long weekends to hunt for new rental homes,” explains David Newnes, managing director of LSL Property Services.

“Even a slightly stronger supply of property has failed to cool rental inflation as landlords take advantage of the growing number of mortgage products available. Competition is fierce and tenants are paying a premium to secure properties. The average landlord is charging nearly £30more a month than a year ago, and the rate of increase is unlikely to tail off as lending to first‐time buyers remains subdued and demand for rental homes is stronger than ever.”

Monthly rents in London have been soaring at the fastest pace in the country over the past year, increasing by 7.9% since April 2010, reaching £988 in April 2011. The second highest rise has been in the South East, which saw monthly rents increase by 5.7% in the past year to £705.

Only the East of England has seen rents decline in the past year, falling slightly by 0.8% to £709 per month. Compared to March, rents increased the most in the South West and the East of England, rising by 1.7% and 1.6%. Rents only declined in three regions — the North East, where they fell by 0.7%, and the South East and East Midlands, where rents fell by 0.1% in both regions.

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