THE UK’s private rental market is showing signs of a major slowdown.

The number of properties letting agents manage per branch fell to a 12-month low in October.

Each branch had, on average, 182 properties available to rent, down from 189 in September.

It is the lowest since October 2016, according to the report from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Experts warn the slowdown could lead to fierce competition from prospective tenants for homes.

David Cox, ARLA chief executive said: “While this time of year is one of the busiest for people buying and selling properties, it’s typically slower for the rental market.

“A large number of tenancies are agreed over the summer, meaning both supply and demand are usually lower in the autumn.”

He warned that the fall in rental stock could hit tenants financially.

He added: “However, a lot are also agreed in the New Year and if stock remains low, competition for properties among prospective tenants will increase, which will in turn push rents up, so we must see an increase in supply over the next two months.

“With that in mind, it’s good news that the recent spate of rent increases we’ve seen seems to have slowed, but 22 per cent is still high.

“The cost of living continues to rise and for many, the dream of home ownership is too far out of reach.

“Last week’s news that stamp duty is cut for first time buyers will mean consumers feel more positive and will hopefully go some way towards helping more people get onto the housing ladder.

“But if rent costs continue to rise, it will forever be an unreachable aspiration for many.”

The number of tenants experiencing rent increases was found to be down to its lowest level since December 2016.

According to researchers, 22 per cent of agents witnessed landlords hiking rent costs compared to 27 per cent in September and a high of 35 per cent in August.

In line with this, the number of tenants successfully negotiating rent reductions increased marginally from 2.4 per cent in September to 2.5 per cent in October.