The buy-to-let sector received a boost in the last quarter, with lending hitting its highest level since late 2008, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show.
Some 24,900 buy-to-let mortgages were sold in the three months to June, a 13% rise on the first three months of the year and a 15% jump on the same period in 2009, the CML said.
The increase means buy-to-let mortgages - totalling 1.26 million, with a value of £149 billion - account for 12% of the entire mortgage market, the highest percentage on record.
The sector appears to have overcome the slowdown forced by the credit crunch, which resulted in tougher lending conditions, and the CML said it expects demand for rental properties to remain strong as first-time buyers continue to struggle to get on the housing ladder.
CML director general Michael Coogan added: "Finance for private landlords, whether institutional or individual, is crucial if the UK is to have enough homes to meet the needs of the population. Funding conditions for lenders remain tight, but there is every reason to expect the buy-to-let sector to continue to make a powerful contribution to helping meet the country's varied housing needs."