Private rental properties are being let within 15 days on average - five days quicker than a year ago, data from Countrywide shows.
Countrywide’s quarterly branch survey reveals an average of 4.4 tenants are vying for each UK property.
In the South West the figure rise to 5.9 tenants per house.
In Q4 2010 the number of new tenants registering for rental accommodation increased by 14% year on year.
Overall, the total number of new tenants registering for rental accommodation exceeded 200,000 last year.
And new tenant registrations increasing by 37%, which peaked between July and September 2010.
Agents throughout the UK reported a significant lack of property supply with the average number of properties available to let falling by 29%.
The proportion of three and four bedroom properties entering the rental market grew by 3% over Q4 and 2% compared to Q4 2009.
John Hards, co-managing Director of Countrywide Residential Lettings, says the rental market has seen record demand in 2010.
He says: “We are seeing a change in the demographic of tenants with a growing number of professional tenants emerging across the country, as affordability issues facing homebuyers that are unable to sell or raise the capital to buy their next home.”