The average rent on a new tenancy starting in May was £901, 0.3% lower than in the same month of 2016

UK rents have fallen year-on-year for the first time since December 2009, according to new research.

The latest HomeLets Rental Index showed average rents across the UK fell by 0.3% last month, and had declined in five of the country’s 12 regions.

The average rent on a new tenancy commencing in May was £901, 0.3% lower than in the same month of 2016. New tenancies on rents in London were 3% lower than this time last year.

Four other regions of the UK saw rents on new tenancies decline during May. The North-East of England, the South-East, Yorkshire & Humberside, and Scotland registered falls ranging from 2.3% to 0.6%.

The slowdown in the London market has seen average rents fall from £1,572 a month last July to £1,502 in May. Last month’s 3.0% annualised fall was the steepest decline seen in the capital since 2009.

HomeLet’s chief executive Martin Totty said the data suggested landlords were now facing a difficult balancing act between ensuring rents are affordable for tenants in a low real wage growth environment, and covering their own rising costs.

“Tenants will still need a vibrant and growing rented sector to provide them with property options at the time of their choosing.

“Any constraint to the supply of rental properties, because landlords are unable to achieve the reasonable returns they require, cannot be in the long term best interests of tenants, especially if, as we’ve now heard from all the main political parties, the UK’s population continues to grow,” he added.