Tenant demand for private rented homes has hit the highest level this year, according to new data.

Inquiries from renters seeking a new home have climbed by 13% year-on-year, says the latest report from letting agent trade body ARLA Propertymark.

But the number of homes on the market for them to let is dwindling.

The average letting agent has 70 renters home hunting, says ARLA, which has returned the market to a level last seen in September 2017 after months of falling demand.

Year-on-year, the number of homes marketed by each estate agent has dropped by 4% from 192 in July 2017 to 184 last month.

Letting agents also reported buy to let landlords were selling up at a rate of four homes a branch each month.

The research also highlights 31% of tenants saw their rents rise in July 2018 – a fall from the 35% who posted rent rises in the previous month.

“Buy-to-let investors are being pushed out of the market by increasing costs and continued regulatory change, and new landlords are being deterred from entering,” said ARLA chief executive David Cox.

“Last month, an average of four landlords took their properties off the market per branch, up from three this time last year – and as supply falls, competition among tenants increases, which pushes up rent costs.

“Almost a third saw their rents rise last month, and although this figure was down from June, it’s still far too high. To put tenants back in the driving seat, we need more homes available to rent, and the only way this will be achieved is if the government makes the market more attractive for buy to let investors.”

Meanwhile, a separate report from tenant referencing firm Homelet shows UK buy to let rents climbed by 1.3% for the year ending July 2018.

The average monthly rent is £937 a month, but falls to 377 when London rents are stripped from the data.