A rental market survey conducted for The Deposit Protection Service claims the average rent has fallen in the UK for the first time in six years.
The average UK monthly rent during Q1 2018 was £772 - some £4 down on the final quarter of last year.
The DPS also says that if rents remain unchanged or there is another decline in Q2 2018, the UK will experience its first annual rental decrease since Q4 2009.
“The decrease could represent the beginning of a substantial development for the housing sector and a significant indicator for understanding the wider economy” claims Julian Foster, DPS managing director.
“Rent growth began to slow in summer 2016, and the slip into negative figures suggests that there is a genuine long-term issue affecting the private rented sector.
“The UK-wide decrease implies that there is more at play than a short-term or local correction to excessive prices, and a similar reduction in Q2 could represent the first annual decrease in rents since 2009.”
Northern Ireland experienced the biggest percentage decrease of any UK region: down 3.14 per cent from £544 to £527, replacing the North East as the most affordable UK region in which to rent property.
As a region London saw an £18 decrease in average rent, falling 1.39 per cent from £1,325 to £1,307: this is the largest fall in value of any UK region and the second consecutive quarterly decrease for the capital.
Only four UK regions experienced growth in average rent: the South East, up 1.01 per cent; East Midlands, up 0.45 per cent; the North West, up just 0.18 per cent; and Wales, up 3.62 per cent.
The TDS index was developed by academics at the Cranfield School of Management.