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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 12:11 GMT
Tenant demand at 'five-year high'
For Sale signs
Analysts are trying to predict the direction of the housing market
The level of tenants seeking to rent property privately has hit a five year high in the UK, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) says.

A number of factors have combined to push up demand including an increase in immigration, more people living alone, and a weakening of the housing market.

The South East has seen an acute shortage of rental properties, while central London has seen demand surge.

Letting agents were warning of shortages across the UK, Arla said.

"This peak demand should come as no surprise" said Ian Potter, head of operations at Arla.

"Softening in the sales market is always a driver of further demand in the rental market," he added.

In the South East of England, 57% of the letting agents said that they were seeing demand outstrip supply, according to Arla's quarterly report.

Elsewhere in the UK, 37% of them have reported rental property shortages.

Central London has seen a 13-fold increase in demand for rental property over the past five years, Arla said.

At the same time, tenants are choosing to rent for "well over a year", Arla said in its survey, which is which is based on responses drawn from 517 letting offices.

Property is remaining empty for "well under a month", down from an earlier average of nearly five weeks.

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