The average rent paid at the end of 2015 was around £27 a month higher than when the year started, according to an index.
Across England and Wales, private sector rents increased by 3.4% over the course of 2015 to reach £794 per month on average in December, according to the index from estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains.
In December 2014, the typical monthly rent paid was £27 lower, at £767.
The 3.4% increase is the biggest full calendar year rent rise since 2011, when rents lifted by 4% over 12 months, the report said.
However, rents did fall slightly, by 0.6%, month-on-month in December.
Despite the general dip, average monthly rents in Yorkshire and the Humber and the West Midlands increased to all-time highs in December, at £556 and £593 respectively, the report said.
Wales and the South East were the only regions where average rents were lower than in December 2014.
In Wales, average rents fell by 1% annually to reach £560 on average. In the South East rents fell by 2.6%, taking them to £766 typically.
The East of England recorded the biggest rise in rents over the last year, with a 7.8% jump taking the average rent there to £831 a month. London saw the second biggest annual increase, with rents up by 6.3% to £1,251 on average.
Tenants' arrears worsened in December, with 9.3% of all rent being late, up from 8.2% in November.
Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move, said: "It seems easy to believe the cost of living issues that previously plagued the UK are over.
"In terms of the weekly shop that might be true - some forms of inflation have been tamed for the time being.
"But the greatest expense in household finances is often housing."
He continued: "For home owners, low interest rates offer a buffer from bad economic times, but tenants just don't have the same luxury."
The index is based on rents achieved on around 20,000 properties.