The Your Move and Reeds Rains buy-to-let index registered an average residential rent of £767 against £745 the year before.
In the East of England, Yorkshire & Humber, East Midlands and London there was no seasonal fall and new records.
Adrian Gill, director of estate agents Reeds Rains and Your Move, said: “In particular a jobs boom across the eastern regions of England has seen a larger than usual number of people relocating in the winter months. This has pushed up rental prices in these regions even further.
Rents are higher than a year ago in eight out of 10 regions of England and Wales. This is led by the East of England, with a 7.6% annual increase. The East Midlands has seen rents rise by 6.2% on an annual basis, followed by London where rents are up 4.1% over the last twelve months, and Yorkshire & the Humber with a 3.4% annual increase. As a result, these four regions have seen rents at record highs in December.
In contrast, average rents in the North East fell by 2.1% over the course of 2014, while rents in the South West are 1.0% lower on an annual basis.
Tenants certainly felt a festive squeeze, however, with 8.9% of rent in arrears, the highest since previous December and up from 7.5% in November.
This is an improvement year-on-year, when 9.7% of all rent was in arrears.
However, the overall figures suggest arrears are improving every year.
The gross yield on a typical rental property in England and Wales now stands at 5.1% as of December 2014 with total annual rental returns at 11.1%.