Most landlords in England are individuals earning an average of £15,000 a year
The vast majority of landlords in England, some 94%, operate as private individuals rather than as part of a company or organisation and on average earn £15,000 a year before tax and other deductions.
The latest Private Landlords Survey, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the first since 2010, also shows that for most landlords income from rent makes up 42% of their total gross income and only 4% rent property as their main business.
It gives an insight into different attitudes between landlords and letting agents. For example, landlords are less willing than agents to let to certain groups while agents are more likely to increase the rent for a new tenant that landlords.
While almost half of landlords, some 45%, own just one property, half of private rented sector tenancies are let by the 17% of landlords with five or more properties while a further 38% own between two and four properties, representing 31% of the sector.
It means that since 2010, the proportion of landlords with just one property has declined from 78% to 45% or from 40% to 21% of the sector. Meanwhile, the proportion of landlords with five or more properties increased from 5% to 17% or from 39% to 48% of the sector.
The survey also reveals that 59% of landlords are aged 55 years or older and 33% are retired. Some 70% of landlords have let property for six years or more and the average length of time that landlords had let property was 11.5 years.
Landlords most commonly reported that they had become landlords because property was preferable to other investments and/or to contribute to their pension. The figures show that 46% of landlords became a landlord because they preferred property to other investments, 44% did so to contribute to their pension. Only 4% became a landlord to let property as a full
When it comes to funding their properties, landlords who had been letting for longer were more likely to have used a mortgage to fund their first rental property and more likely to currently use a buy to let mortgage compared to more recent landlords.
Some 63% of those who had been a landlord for three years or less had used a mortgage to fund their first rental property compared to 73% of those who had been a landlord for between four and 10 years, and 75% of those a landlord for 11 or more years. Some 49% of those who had been a landlord for three years or less had a buy to let mortgage to fund their current properties. This increased to 58% of those who had been letting for between four and 10 years, and 54% for those letting for 11 or more years.
Over the next two years, 53% of landlords plan to keep the number of rental properties the same, with 11% planning to increase the number of properties they own. This compared with 10% of landlords who planned to reduce the number of properties, representing 18% of tenancies, and 5% planning to sell all their rental property and leave the rental business, representing 5% of tenancies.
The survey shows that letting practices vary between landlords and agents. For example, agents are more likely than landlords to increase rent for a new tenant and for a tenancy renewal. They are also more likely to require a larger deposit.
Indeed, half of agents increased the rent for their last letting to a new tenant compared to 42% of landlords. For their most recent tenancy renewal 70% of landlords kept the rent the same compared to 63% of agents. A third of agents increased the rent for existing tenants, compared to 22% of landlords.
For their last letting, 61% of agents took a deposit of more than four and up to six weeks’ rent while 45% of landlords took a deposit of this size while 47% of landlords took a deposit of up four weeks’ rent compared with 29% of agents.
Meanwhile, landlords are less willing than agents to let to certain groups, including those in receipt of Housing Benefit and Universal Credit, non-UK passport holders and families. Some 52% of landlords and 37% of agents reported that they would be unwilling to let to tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit, while 47% and 33% respectively said that they would be unwilling to let to anyone on Universal Credit. The most commonly reported reasons for not letting to this group included the risk of delay in payment or unpaid rent and the risk that benefits would not cover the rent.
A quarter of landlords and 10% of agents are unwilling to let to non-UK passport holders. Reasons for this were not explored, while 18% of landlords and 6% of agents are unwilling to let to families. Most often this was because their property or properties were unsuitable for families and also because of the greater risk of damage to the property.
Three quarters of landlords and agents were willing to offer longer tenancies of more than 12 months and an additional 38% of landlords and agents were willing to if there was a break clause in place to enable tenants and landlords to break the contract if required. Landlords and agents were asked what would encourage them to offer longer tenancies. Some 70% said that they would if it was easier to remove problem tenants.