The latest survey from ARLA, which collates data from 733 letting agents and information from lenders Mortgage Express and Paragon Mortgages, shows that 55% of members in Q4 reported that tenants are having trouble making rent.
Although this represents a drop compared to the previous three months, ARLA says this figure is still worryingly high.
Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, says that if unemployment rises this year it is inevitable that the number of tenants forced to default on their rent will also go up accordingly.
He says: “The housing market looks increasingly buoyant with demand for rental properties having risen strongly since October.
“The problem of rental arrears will therefore persist and potentially grow in seriousness as tenants get caught in a web of debt.”
Tenants missing their rent has the knock-on effect of a threat of eviction and landlords defaulting on their mortgage repayments.
ARLA wants the government to create uniform legislation to help cultivate the improving housing market and protect both consumers and landlords.