This research is based on a survey of 755 landlords based in the UK, conducted by Opinium and commissioned by LV=
It is estimated that there are now 1.5 million landlords in the UK, each facing their own challenges in the current climate. But who are Britain’s landlords, and what are their plans for the future?
For most UK landlords (91%), taking charge of tenants is a part-time venture – but there is a clear generational split. Younger people (between 18-34 years old) were more likely to be full-time landlords than those over the age of 55 (20% vs 7% respectively).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, income is the biggest motivator for landlords across the UK. Being able to get onto the property ladder (16%), tax deductions (8%) and becoming friends with tenants (3%) were also cited as common benefits of running a buy-to-let property.
Many of those who took part in the research became landlords by accident. A quarter inherited a property, then subsequently seized the opportunity to make an additional income by renting it out.
Despite this group of “accidental landlords”, retirement plans were by far the biggest driver. Around half of landlords (49%) entered the profession as a pension investment.
Among younger investors, becoming a landlord frequently isn’t a solo venture, with a fifth of 18 to 34-year-olds buying with another person, and nearly a quarter (22%) relying on friends or family to fund their purchase.
More than one in ten (13%) landlords admitted to not having landlord insurance on their properties, while a further 2% said they didn’t know if their policy was specialist or not. This means more than £600 million of expenses are coming straight out of their collective pockets instead of being reimbursed through insurance.
Thankfully, the vast majority (85%) had some kind of landlord insurance in place.
Time and money are the biggest challenges that landlords in the UK face, with around two-fifths (41%) considering selling their property because of these issues.
With just 9% of respondents identifying themselves as being full-time landlords, it’s clear that having spare time when managing a property is also a priority.
Some 52% of those surveyed outsource management to a letting agent to take the pressure off, but with a large number of landlords considering leaving the profession because of time constraints, it appears that getting support from third parties isn’t enough.
Being a landlord can also be a costly business, with UK residential landlords spending a total of £4.7 billion a year on maintaining their properties.
There were significant regional differences, but in most areas landlords point to common issues that lead to expensive repairs.
On average, landlords spend three days a month maintaining their properties. But around 6.5% of those surveyed spend 10 to 20 days each month looking after their buy-to-let portfolio.
The cost of being a landlord is a burden for many, which might explain why so many are reconsidering their profession.
More than half (52%) have spent money on decorating their properties, while more than a third (37%) have forked out on renovations or refurbishments in the past year.
Replacing goods is also frequently a drain on their income. Some 30% have spent money replacing or repairing white goods, and the same proportion have had to splash the cash on non-white goods.
Finding the right tenants for buy-to-let properties remains one of the main headaches for landlords, with more than a third (34%) citing this as the most challenging aspect of renting out properties. However, it seems that many are happy with the ones they’ve found.
Nearly half of all landlords are extremely satisfied with their current tenants, but it is a strictly professional relationship for most, with three-quarters saying they don’t consider their tenants friends.
Although the landscape of British landlords may be changing, and there are findings that may challenge perceptions, the same key areas remain a priority and even a deal-breaker for some.
Finding the right tenant is a key obstacle for anyone renting out a property, and the time and money spent on managing buy-to-lets is enough to make landlords reconsider their profession. However, with £600 million being paid directly by landlords that could be being reimbursed by insurance policies, it may be that accessing more support could help alleviate the pressure.
Research of 755 UK residential landlords carried out between 8 May to 15 May 2019.
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