Average private rents in Britain rose 1.7 per cent in the 12 months to December 2014, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The government department's latest Index of Private Housing Rental Prices (IPHRP), published on Friday (January 30th), shows that the cost of renting residential property increased 0.2 per cent in Wales for the year as a whole. The figure was two per cent in Scotland, while a rate of 1.8 per cent in England weighed on the national average.
All English regions registered increases rather than decreases, with London and the south-east recording the fastest growth at 2.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively.
The new IPHRP was compiled using an improved methodology compared to past editions of the index, the ONS said, so the figures have been upwardly revised considerably.
Commenting on this, David Whittaker - the managing director of Mortgages for Business - told Property Wire that the higher figures were consistent with the industry's own experience of rent rises in 2014.
However, he dismissed the idea that those increases have been excessive, pointing out that private rents have yet to pass the rate of inflation by a significant margin.
"We're talking an average annual rent rise of 2.1 per cent over the last couple of years instead of 1.2 per cent," he told the publication.
Mr Whittaker continued: "Affordability of renting, like the affordability of most things in an unprecedented economic slump, has been squeezed. But the culprit hasn’t been excessive rent rises."
According to recent data from Countrywide, private rental prices rose 1.7 per cent in the first six months of 2014 before achieving a faster rate of 1.8 per cent in the second half of the year.
This was atypical for the private rented sector, which normally records higher activity in the January to June period than in the following six months.