Strong tenant demand has sent rents soaring to record levels, new research shows.
According the UK's biggest lettings agent network, LSL Property Services, the average cost of renting a property has increased for the fourth month in a row, and now stands at £696 - up £30 on May 2010.
Demand for rented accommodation has risen steadily as potential buyers are hit by difficulties in getting a mortgage, with their savings often not large enough for a deposit.
David Newnes, estate agency managing director of LSL Property Services, said: "Tenant demand has been especially bubbly in recent months.
"Soaring inflation has taken its toll on would-be buyers' deposit funds. The rocketing cost of living, combined with the ongoing difficulty first-time buyers are experiencing in obtaining a mortgage is increasing the number reliant on rental accommodation.
"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."