Figures published this morning show that rents across the country rose in January for the first time in two years.

Property website said average rents moved up 1% in the month, bringing the national average to €765 a month, 25% below peak levels in early 2008.

Daft economist Ronan Lyons said it was too early to say whether rents had levelled off, but the January increase was broadly consistent throughout the country.

He said this was likely to be because of a steady fall in the number of properties available to rent. Mr Lyons said the stock of property available to rent had fallen by more than 20% over the past five months, and now stood at 19,000.

Over the past two years, the stock of rental properties had surged from 6,000 to a peak of more than 23,000 in August last year.

Meanwhile, Daft said that in 2009, Dublin rents fell by almost 19%, while rents in Cork, Limerick and Waterford cities dropped by 16%.