LSL Property Services reported the number of tenants in severe arrears – defined as being two months or more behind on payments – leapt 3.4% in the last three months of 2013.
This figure was unexpected after a consistent improvement across 2013 but 26% fewer households ended the year in arrears than the previous year.
Paul Jardine, director and receiver at Templeton LPA, said that despite a pre-Christmas setback buy-to-let landlords should not panic.
“After a year of dramatic changes, the closing stages of 2013 have been no less intense for anyone struggling with the monthly rent,” he said. “For many people the festive period has provided a particularly difficult ending to a long and challenging year.
“Household budgets will remain under intense pressure in 2014 – the situation for many tenants is not easy by any means. But even with the strains of Christmas and New Year, severe rental arrears are in a much better state than they were just six months ago. That could point towards fewer people facing eviction in months to come.”
Elsewhere Connells reported a 35% increase in the number of property valuations completed in 2013. It said despite a seasonal slowdown the month of December saw 12% more valuations than the previous year.
Activity in the buy-to-let sector had increased 6% on a year ago, the firm said.
Corporate services director John Bagshaw said: “Buy-to-let is the exceptional success of the housing market recovery. Landlords have recently made use of lower mortgage rates in the same way as many remortgagors, but have also demonstrated steady progress every year since the darkest parts of the recession.
“Demand for rental property is driving this. And while the purchase market is accelerating rapidly, half a decade of setbacks for first time buyers will stoke strong demand from landlords seeking to keep up with the scramble for homes to let.”