Date Published 22 January 2013

Tenants in London are paying rents that are 132% higher, and in some cases 223% more, than in the North-East.

According to tenancy referencing and insurance company HomeLet, the average cost of renting a home in London started the new year 6.9% up on last year to stand at £1,212 per month. In contrast, average rents in the North-East increased by a minimal 0.8% to £523 per month – and the region has consistently remained the least expensive in the UK to rent a home.

Average rents within the 12 areas within Greater London range from £779 per month in Dartford to £1,689 per month in west London. When comparing west London's rental amounts with those in the North-East of England, they are 223% more expensive.

Around the rest of the UK, the average cost of renting a home increased by 4.7% from December 2011 to £782 per month – reasonably consistent with the latest LSL data (see next story).

However, the average income of tenants decreased over the same period by 0.3% to £27,799 per annum.

Ian Fraser, HomeLet's managing director, said: `The high level of overseas investors in London's property market has helped to drive property prices up, particularly for residential homes in the more exclusive boroughs. But the growing demand for rented property throughout the capital is really driving an increase in rental values – with rising rents offering an increasingly attractive return for those who have the capital to invest in property.

`As confidence and demand in the private rented sector grows, so will overseas investment, and landlords will continue to maximise the return from their properties. However, this may also increase the purchase value of homes within these areas, and consequently affect people's ability to become a home owner – thereby driving demand for rental homes, and average rents, even higher.

`The Government has pledged to ease this situation by offering funding and introducing schemes to aid the development of new homes specifically for private rent. Until then, though, it appears that rents in Greater London will continue to increase at a much higher rate than in other regions such as the North-East, and those who want to live in desirable locations, due to employment for example, may have to remain in rented homes due to inflated property values pricing them out of the ownership option.`?

Meanwhile, according to LSL, rents across England and Wales ended last year with falls over the last two months, while tenants' rental arrears worsened.

But despite the seasonal fall, rents in December were 3.2% higher than the year before.

The average rent in England and Wales fell by 0.9% in December to £734 per month.

The largest falls were in the East of England and North-East, where rents dropped by 1.7%. These were closely followed by London where rents fell 1.5% and the South-East with a 1.3% fall.

Three regions had monthly increases – the West Midlands, South-West and Wales.

On an annual basis, rents remained higher than a year ago in eight out of ten regions.

Alongside rises in property values over the year, annual rental inflation means the total annual return for 2012 on a rental property grew to 6.2% in December. This represents an average return of £9,986 with rental income of £7,835 and a capital gain of £2,150.

The total amount of rent late or unpaid grew to the highest level since August 2012, with total arrears of £326m, up from £241m in November. This equates to 10.1% of all rent across England and Wales, up from November's arrears which represented 7.4% of all rent