One in five tenants saw their rent increase in January thanks to a fall in the supply of rental accommodation, the latest survey of letting agents shows.

The year began with 19 per cent of tenants seeing rent increases in January, compared to 16 per cent the previous month.

Demand from tenants rose in Britain while the supply of rental properties dropped by 8 per cent between December and January, according to the private rented sector report from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

The trend confirms warnings from industry experts that recent tax changes would ultimately impact on renters as landlords seek to protect their livelihoods.

And it demonstrates the exceptionally durable nature of buy-to-let property as an asset, despite unnecessary government interventions.

David Cox, ARLA chief executive, said: "This month’s results indicate that renters are in for a rough ride in 2018.

"Housing stock is falling as rising taxes continue to force established landlords out of the market and deter entry into the sector and the volume of renters is increasing as the cost of buying a home is moving further out of reach for many.

"Ultimately, until the prospect of investing in the buy to let market is more attractive for prospective landlords, and stock subsequently increases, tenants will continue to feel the burn."

The year began with 19 per cent of tenant seeing rent increases in January compared to 16 per cent the previous month.

However, the report explains that while this may appear bleak for tenants, it is actually down year on year.

In January 2017 some 23 per cent of tenants had their rents increased and 30 per cent were subject to rent rises in January 2016.

There were 184 rental properties per member agent in January 2018, down from 200 in December. The last time supply reached a level this low was October 2017, when it stood at 182.

The gap between supply and demand widened in January as more would-be tenants came onto the market: on average, letting agents registered 70 prospective renters per branch in January, compared to just 59 in December.