Private landlords might face strict criteria when trying to obtain a buy-to-let mortgage this year, it has been suggested.

A property expert has claimed that the effect of the economic downturn on the mortgage industry has caused activity levels to plummet at a startling rate.

Paul Holmes, chief executive of first-time buyer advisory firm Firstrung, said lending is 85 per cent lower than at the housing market's peak in August 2007.

"That is quite a remarkable figure because - in terms of mortgage activity - that is back in the dark ages of the 1970s, which is a remarkable turnaround,"he said.

The number of available products in the buy-to-let mortgage market has also fallen since the economic crisis, but investors who can afford large deposits might still be able to find a good deal.

Overall mortgage lending has also suffered as a result of the credit crunch, as shown by figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders this month which revealed that total borrowing fell by 47 per cent in the 12 months up to December 2008.ADNFCR-2002-ID-18997144-ADNFCR

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