Rents paid by private tenants rose at their highest annual rate in more than five years after peaking in the past 12 months.
New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows private rental prices in the UK rose 2.3% in the year to February, the fastest annual growth rate high since December 2016.
The area with the fastest growth in rents was the East Midlands, with prices up 3.8% over the period, while London lagged behind with prices up just 0.2%.
Excluding the capital, which the ONS says is seeing a drop in demand as increased remote working allows employees to live out of town, rental prices in the UK rose by 3, 2% over the 12 month period, compared to 3% for the year to January.
Within each country, prices for private rentals rose the most in Scotland (2.6%), followed by England (2.1%) and Wales (1.4%).
Propertymark chief executive Nathan Emerson said the new figures reiterated his growing concerns about the affordability of rental accommodation for people across the country.
“Lower income people are facing the brunt of rising rents and our officers report consistent disparities between local housing allowance rates and market rent prices,” he says.
“Recent discussions of rent control are not the answer and in many cases these controls have failed and hit hard those they are meant to help.
“In order to solve this problem, the simple calculation of unbalanced supply and demand must be solved by introducing new investments in the private rental and social sectors.”
The latest figures point to a continued rise in rental prices since the end of last year after a period of flat to moderate growth since mid-2019.
Since January 2015, rental prices have increased by 12.6% until February this year.
In February, the Association of Residential Rental Agents revealed a sharp rise in the number of agents reporting increased rental prices, with 74% of members saying it had impacted their stock, up from 56% in December.