ARLA said this was because many landlords had chosen not to increase rent due to financial difficulties faced by tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is down from the 41 per cent of agents who said they were noticing rent increases in February, the last time ARLA conducted its PRS report and before the lockdown began.
The year-on-year difference is also stark, as in May 2019 45 per cent of agents reported rises in rent.
Furthermore, tenants have been more successful in asking for rental reductions with the number of tenants negotiating reductions increasing to 2.5 per cent in May – the highest since March 2019 when the success rate was 2.9 per cent.
As landlords were unable to conduct viewings during the lockdown, the average time properties were empty between tenancies increased to five weeks in May.
This is the longest time properties have remained void between tenancies since records began.
The number of new prospective tenants fell to 70 per branch in May, compared to 82 in February.
However, the level of pent-up demand during lockdown meant that despite the fall, this is still the highest level on record for the month of May since records began, compared with 60 new tenants registered in May 2018, and 69 in May 2019.
Rental stock supply
Following the reopening of the housing market, the number of properties managed per branch rose to 208 in May. This is an increase from pre-lockdown when the average number of properties managed per member branch stood at 201. This figure is the same year-on-year.
David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive, said: “Our latest figures show that landlords and agents have been taking the brunt of the pandemic. They are aware of the financial difficulties facing tenants and have shown empathy, with many landlords not increasing rents where they otherwise might have needed to.
“As we continue to move forward, it’s important that everyone aims to keep the rent flowing in order to sustain the market and help boost the economy following several months of uncertainty.”