The number of households renting from private landlords has more than doubled in the last 10 years – up by 61%.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the number of private rentals has risen from 2.8 million just before the financial crash in 2007-8 to 4.5 million in 2017.
The numbers translate into a 13% increase in the total number of homes in the private rental sector.
In the same timeframe, the number of owner occupiers in the UK property market dropped from 37% to 28%.
The figures also revealed that the age range of private renters is increasing.
The number of homes where the head of the household was aged between 45 and 54 rose from 11% to 16% while those ranging from 16 to 24 fell from 17% to just 12%.
The most common age group among renters – from 25 to 34 – dropped by just 1% to 35% in the same timescale.
The median household weekly rent across the whole country currently stands at £134 with England being the highest at £138 and Northern Ireland the lowest at £97.
But Kate Davies, executive director of the Independent Mortgage Lenders Association, believes the growth in rental may be at an end.
She said: “The recent period of subdued rental price increases may be disguising the true effect of various tax and regulatory changes imposed since mid-2015.
These measures continue to erode the BTL sector, and in turn the whole PRS. In fact, we may be approaching a watershed, as landlords will only be starting to feel the adverse effects of income tax changes when these are reflected in their tax bills for the first time this month.
“This continued erosion in buy-to-let is visible in the reduction in investment in rental property, as IMLA’s report in early 2018 showed, with net investment in buy-to-let collapsing by 80 per cent over just two years.
“We will continue to raise concerns about the full effects that tax and regulatory layering will eventually have on property availability and tenant choice.
If, as we expect, policies contribute to higher rents for tenants, this will in turn make it harder for those who are trying to save for deposits to buy their own homes.
“BTL landlords represent a key element of the PRS, providing homes for a very wide spectrum of households.
This includes many benefit claimants, who would in the past have had access to social housing.
“IMLA will continue to monitor the impact of the tax and regulation changes. We consider it vital that no additional measures should be introduced which could risk further eroding the health of the PRS or the wellbeing of those who rely upon it.”