Residential lettings have fallen by 19% for the first part of this year when compared with 2009, it has been revealed.
The latest findings by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in partnership with Propertynews.com and the University of Ulster have shown a slower private rental sector with rents also dropping.
The survey highlights the tough conditions faced by many landlords and tenants as a result of the economic downturn.
The average cost of rent dipped during this period with detached properties being hit hardest.
The overall average rent per month in greater Belfast is down by 3.6% from £560. Meanwhile, the highest and therfore most sought-after rental locations are Belfast city centre followed by the south of the city, with north Belfast achieving the lowest rent value.
And at Belfast City Council level, average rents have also taken a tumble of 4.2%, taking rents here to £568.
In terms of property types, rent prices are down 2.3% across the board this year with the exception of semi-detached houses which have bucked the trend with growth of 2.1% this year.
And when it comes to demand in the rental sector, terraces account for 40%, followed by apartments 33%, semi-detached 17% and detached 10%.