A report by leading UK letting agent Countrywide shows that private rental properties in the UK are being snapped up just 15 days after the property first appears on the market. This is five days less than last year’s average.

The report also showed that on average, there are 4.4 tenants looking to rent for each available property, the highest demand being in the South West of England.

In fact, the total number of new tenants registering for rental accommodation exceeded 2009’s figure of 200,000, with new tenant registrations rising by 37% in 2010.

The recent economic downturn has led to an increasing number of professionals turning to rental property rather than buying, as often they are unable to sell their current property or struggle to raise enough capital to buy a new house.

The report also revealed that the number of three- and four-bedroom properties available on the rental market in the UK has grown consistently since 2009; rising by 3% in the final quarter of 2010. Two-bedroom properties, however, remain in short supply.

"The rental market has seen record levels of demand in 2010. In the final quarter, whilst we experienced the traditional slowdown, the continuing demand is seeing many properties in prime locations having new tenants secured within hours of coming onto the market," commented John Hards, Co-Managing Director of Countrywide Residential Lettings.

"These wider economic issues are reflected in our rental stock, with a growing number of three- and four-bedroom family homes entering the market, but the greatest demand is for two-bedroom apartments and houses which are still in short supply."