The number of rental homes in the UK has nosedived - and the situation will only get worse

Emma Haslett
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Housing In The South West Of England
The number of rental properties is at a record low (Source: Getty)

An unintended consequence of the chancellor's stamp duty hike or just more nerves about Brexit?

Either way, a report by one of the UK's largest landlords' associations has warned the number of rental properties in the UK is dangerously now.

The report, by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla), found the supply of rental stock in the UK fell 12 per cent in March on the year before - and is expected to keep on falling.

Read more: Londoners: Stop whinging about astronomical rents. It could be much worse

Arla said it had 169 properties managed per branch in March, down from 192 last year. It's the lowest level since records began (although that was, admittedly, only in January 2015...).

That said, the number of tenants registering also fell - from 37 per branch in February to 33 in March. To put that into context, in March last year, that figure was 36.

Those looking for a place in Scotland had the most luck - agents there had 273 properties registered. Meanwhile, in London, agents had just 122 homes on their books.

And it looks like those stamp duty reforms - which hiked the levy on buy to let homes from 1 April - are already taking their toll. Some 65 per cent of agents reckon prospective landlords will walk away from the market following the changes, while rent costs rose for a third of tenants and 61 per cent of agents reckon there will be further rises.

"We don’t expect falling supply to stop here," said David Cox, Arla's managing director.

"The recent stamp duty changes are very likely to cause supply to decrease even further, as landlords withdraw from the market."

Figures have already shown mortgage borrowing spiked last month as borrowers rushed to squeeze buy to let transactions in before the deadline.

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