Lettings is our business, not just part of it!

Seasonal expectations hold in December.

Demand for rental properties reached the lowest level on record in December, ARLA statistics suggest.

Members of the trade body recorded 26 prospective tenants per branch, the lowest level since ARLA started recording the data in January 2015 and down from 32 a month before.

While this may sound bad, it is just below the 29 recorded in December 2015.

There was better news on the supply side with the number of rental properties managed per branch increasing from 185 in November to 188 in December, but 46% of agents expect to see supply decrease this year.

The number of letting agents witnessing rent hikes for tenants increased by three percentage points in December to 19%.

In December 2015, the number of rent rises fell month on month from 23% in November 2015 to a similar 18% in December.

David Cox, managing director of ARLA, said: “Although December’s figures could indicate a bright future for renters, with the Government’s impending ban on letting agent fees, the future is actually rather bleak for the UK’s renters.

“Although we saw demand fall and supply rise slightly last month, these are in line with seasonal expectations and is what we expect to see in December.

“If the Government goes ahead with an outright ban on fees, tenants will unfortunately be the ultimate victims, as costs are recouped for the vital services fees cover.”