The number of landlord insurance customers who are getting their foot on the buy-to-let ladder for the first time is on the rise again. This had not happened at any point since 2009, thanks to the fact that professional owners were dominating the market.

Since the economic downturn in 2007, which saw property prices drop drastically from 2008, the private rented sector has picked up to go from strength to strength after initially stalling and seeing a serious fall in 2008.

Rental prices in the last two years, for example, have continued to rise thanks to a sustained level of tenant demand. In fact, for much of 2012, each month brought new all-time highs in terms of what tenants were being asked to pay by their landlords.

However, while professionals have had all the power since then, it has been reported by Paragon Mortgages that there are now more people buying to let for the first time in three years, with these now accounting for 22 per cent of all business from intermediaries in the first quarter of 2013.

This compares well against the 20 per cent seen overall in the market since 2010, and sits just marginally below the 2012 quarter three figure of 24 per cent. It is likely that the number of purchases of buy-to-let properties early in the year has been hit, though, by the fact there are now a greater number of people buying homes to live in themselves.

John Heron, director of mortgages at Paragon, said professional landlords - those with a strong portfolio - had previously been "the backbone" of the market.

"However in recent times we are seeing them becoming more constrained in terms of being able to release equity and secure new finance.

"Private investor landlords – those with between one and five properties – will be the ones to pick up the slack. These landlords have access to more flexible finance and are able to agree deals much more quickly."