Propertymark said its survey of 443 agents, working at 4,000 branches across all four UK nations, was a clear indication of the rate at which the private rented market had been shrinking.
During the period, 94 per cent of landlords who removed their property from the rental market did so to sell it; over half of the rental properties sold in March this year alone did not return to the private rented market.
Nathan Emerson, chief executive at Propertymark, said its research presented a worrying picture for private renters who face chasing fewer properties at elevated rents.
He said the number of properties available to rent had been diminishing with a large portion of landlords choosing to sell their properties.
“A lack of property is the root cause for rent increases and rising figures on social housing lists.”
Government urged to adopt middle ground
Emerson said more needed to be done to support the private rented sector.
He added: “We know from our qualitative research that the most common reasons for landlords to choose to sell their properties and no longer provide homes are around risk, finances and viability.”
“Landlords and letting agents have been the subject of extreme legislation changes as the UK Government tries to improve the sector. However, without a middle ground, these changes are actually proving detrimental to those they are supposed to protect.”
“Sadly we do not see this improving as the sector braces itself for more changes within the anticipated Renters’ Reform Bill and upcoming energy efficiency targets.”
Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection, said the rental market was brutal for tenants and landlords.
He said: “If we think sale prices are rocketing, rents are going up even faster due to such acute supply issues. With the impending changes over the next few years around minimum EPC ratings for rental properties, there is a ticking time bomb of 3.5m properties not at those new minimum standards, which will only make supply shorter without targeted government support.
“The end goal of getting to net zero is absolutely the right thing to do but as with most things with the current government, the detail and support in how to get there without causing a great degree of difficulty for those concerned is lacking.”