Buy-to-let alive and well

Moreover, 29% more surveyors reported a rise than a fall in tenant lettings, up from 15% in the last quarter. "Deteriorating accessibility, tight supply and a slowing housing market has kept would-be home buyers in the rental sector, with many adopting a wait and see approach," said RICS spokesman Jeremy Leaf.


RICS said rents are now rising at the fastest pace in the survey's history and would hit record levels in the current quarter.


"Rising rents are offering some compensation for landlords that are experiencing higher borrowing costs although buy-to-let investment will struggle for funding in 2008 as lenders become more discriminating, especially for 'sub-prime' properties," it said.


RICS also noted an increase in sales of rented property in London and the south east, where rising interest rates have in some cases pushed mortgage costs well above rental income, encouraging some landlords to sell up.


Across the country as a whole, the number of surveyors offloading properties also rose at its fastest pace for two years, although with just 6% of surveyors reporting a rise it stayed well below the peak of 10% reached during the second quarter of 2004.


Separate figures from the Association of Residential Letting Agents said tenant demand outstripped supply in all areas of the market.


The level of rents also rose in all areas to an all-time high, continuing a trend which started at the beginning of the year.


The group said more than half of landlords had reported an increase in rents during the three months to the end of August, also a new high.

Mortgage lending figures for July, also published today, show that while loans for house purchases and remortgages fell, other lending on properties rose to record levels.

Lending in this category - which is primarily made up of buy-to-let mortgages and further advances - added up to £7.8bn, accounting for 23% of total lending during the month, the highest ever proportion.

A spokesman for the CML said it was not possible to say how much of this lending was through buy-to-let loans, but that the organisation's most recent half-yearly figures had show the sector was strong.

The CML's figures highlight the affordability problems faced by first-time buyers who, as a result of not being able to buy a home, are driving demand for rental properties.

The average mortgage multiple needed by a first-time buyer to secure a property continued to increase in July, rising to 3.39 times income - the highest figure on record and up from 3.23 times income in July last year.

First-time buyers taking out home loans in July committed an average of 19.7% of their income to paying the interest on those loans.

The CML said the number of loans made to new buyers fell by 7% from June to 32,400, while the amount borrowed was down 4% to £4.4bn.

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Buy-to-let alive and well