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Spotlight Shines on 2012 Rental Costs

by Alison Feemantle

Property lettings are put under the microscope this week as a survey released by one prominent agent suggests that the costs of renting your home may be dropping. Meanwhile, the survey goes on to suggest that Christmas spending is one of the factors currently having an impact on a rise in late rental payments.

LSL Property Services claim that the average monthly rental payment across the UK in December fell by 0.8% from the previous month. However, LSL go on to state that this still represents an increase of 4% on comparative prices from December 2010.

The fall comes after ten straight months of rental increases, although this does represent a fairly familiar ‘seasonal decrease’.

“The rental market was sheltered from the full impact of the seasonal lull by the strength of underlying tenant demand as many prospective renters took the opportunity to move in the run-up to Christmas at a time when the market is traditionally less competitive,” said David Newnes, director at LSL.

The survey also revealed an increase in late rental payments which it blames squarely on the impact from Christmas spending. The findings suggest that 10.7% of all rental payments were late or unpaid in December, as opposed to a figure of 9.3% from the previous month.

Those figures have prompted the Association of Residential Letting Agents to highlight the difficulties faced by tenants and landlords alike and has reiterated the need for watertight contracts, preferably from a recognised agent.

“It is more critical than ever to take references and conduct thorough research before signing a tenancy agreement,” said Arla’s President Tim Hyatt.

“Seeking advice from a professional, licensed letting agent is the best way to ensure tenants and landlords’ rights are protected.”

The fall in monthly rental prices may be seen by those looking to rent as a positive sign however, industry experts are warning against too much excitement, while affirming their belief that this is no more than a seasonal anomaly.

“It may be premature to say the UK rental market has peaked and that we are about to see rents fall away,” said Matt Hutchinson, director at Spareroom.co.uk.

“What we are probably seeing is a temporary blip, a natural cooling off period for the rental market.”

Overall, rental prices are expected to shortly begin climbing once again while continuing to increase throughout 2012 but the next survey run along similar lines may give us a more telling picture.

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