The number of tenants in severe arrears fell in the last quarter of 2012, according to receivers Templeton LPA, part of the LSL group.
There was a 15.6% drop in the number of tenants in severe arrears, which translates to 16,000 tenants.
Although that still left 86,000 in serious arrears of two months or more, it was the first fall in a year.
The firm also notes that in the third quarter of last year (the latest for which it has statistical information) a total of 25,756 tenants had eviction notices, a rise of 5.5% on the second quarter of 2012.
During the same third quarter of last year, the number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears of over three months stood at 21,900 – an annual fall of 15.8%.