Just over half of private landlords do not use an agent at all – survey

Just over half of landlords do not use an agent to let or manage their properties.

A third (34%) use an agent for let-only, and just 9% use an agent for both letting and management.

The remaining 5% use an agent for management services only.

The finding emerges in a new survey of private landlords in England published yesterday by the Government – the first time the exercise has been carried out since 2010.

During that time, the number of households in the private rented sector has risen by 25% from 3.6m to 4.5m.

There have also been major changes since 2010, including tax changes, a Stamp Duty surcharge of 3% on the purchase of buy-to-let properties, and tougher lending criteria on buy-to-let mortgages.

The new Private Landlord Survey says: “These changes were made as part of the Government’s wider efforts to make the housing market work for everyone and to ensure the housing market delivers the homes the nation needs.”

The survey questioned almost 8,000 landlords and agents registered with one of the three tenancy deposit protection schemes.

It found a total of some 3.4m live deposits registered, equating to 1.5m landlords. Of that number only about 360,000 had registered the deposits themselves.

The survey also paints a picture of a cottage industry, with 94% of landlords operating as individuals rather than as part a company, and almost half (45%) owning just one property. Only 17% own five or more properties.

The average gross rental income that a landlord earns is £15,000.

After tax and other deductions, the average that a landlord gets is 42% of their total gross income.

According to the survey, half (53%) of landlords plan to keep their portfolios the same size, 11% plan to increase the number of properties, and 10% plan to reduce. A further 5% plan to sell all their portfolio.

Agents are more likely than landlords to raise the rent when there is a new tenancy, and also to take a larger deposit.

However, landlords (52%) are more reluctant than agents (37%) to let to certain groups of tenants, including those on housing benefit.

The survey also found that 25% of landlords and 10% of agents are unwilling to let to non-UK passport holders, while 18% of landlords and 6% of agents are unwilling to let to families.

Three-quarters of landlords and agents are willing to offer longer tenancies, but 70% said they would do so if it became easier to remove problem tenants.

The report also found that agents were more likely than landlords to be legally compliant – for example, 87% of agents carried out Right to Rent checks, compared with 62% of landlords for their most recent letting.

More agents than landlords provided tenants with the How to Rent guide, and with a copy of the EPC. Agents were also more compliant about fire safety and annual gas inspections.

Speaking about some of the findings, NALS chief executive Isobel Thomson said: “The results of this survey make for interesting reading, particularly given some of the anti-landlord and agent rhetoric that we have seen recently. In fact, we see that only 7% of tenancies end in eviction, that agents and landlords are willing to offer longer tenancies, and that most deposits are returned in full or part. 

“NALS wants a better, safer private rented sector for all. These results show that in the main, agents and landlords are working hard to achieve that, and that the many tenants who rely on the sector do have a good experience.”

At 62 pages, this is a report dense with market information, insights and charts – and essential reading for agents, especially if there won’t be another one for eight years.



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  1. ArthurHouse02

    I’m probably missing something, but if there are 4.5 million households in the private rented sector and 3.4 million live deposits registered, where are the other 1.1 million deposits?

    1. Robert May

      pre  April 2007 tenancy deposits weren’t required to be registered.
      Not all  agencies take deposits
      Deposit replacement schemes are replacing deposits

    2. PossessionFriendUK39

      er….   a lot of landlords aren’t taking Deposits after the  Superstrike  debacle. !

  2. IHS

    I have no problem with Landlords managing their properties themselves especially if they live locally to the property but do ensure you get legal advice before you start or arrange for a professional letting agency to set up your tenancy. Had one such ring us this week, who set up a tenancy himself last year and whose tenants now owe two months rent, and wanted to know how he could get them out. We asked him if he had given them a copy of the How to Rent guide and an EPC at the start of their tenancy to which he replied ‘no’ what are those! He had given them a copy of the gas certificate and, fortunately, hadn’t taken a deposit, as he had no idea that it had to be protected. We are now helping him sort the mess out.

  3. Woodentop

    The survey also paints a picture of a cottage industry, with 94% of landlords operating as individuals rather than as part a company, and almost half (45%) owning just one property. Only 17% own five or more properties.


    And this is the risk the government are playing with. Keep up the good work civil servants, you are alienating these landlords that can make one massive exodus …. then there will be a problem!

  4. krosotv

    If you are only going to ask people who are registered with a deposit scheme, you are clearly going to only get those landlords that manage themselves.  Why would a landlord that uses an agent have his own deposit account ? Or have I missed something ?

    1. PossessionFriendUK39

      Because a landlord doesn’t trust All Agents to handle the Deposit correctly. 
       Landlords get frightened off by stories of Agents mis-handling / appropriating deposits.
      Like landlords suffer from the excessive Rogue Landlord spublication – assertion by Central & Local Govt,  so too do
      Landlords get ‘put off’ using Agents by the small %  that do a runner with Deposit – rent.

  5. Andy Halstead

    What a huge opportunity. Our industry should collaborate and drive the landlords that do not use agents into the businesses of professional agents. There is a huge prize to be won here, it is almost impossible to self-manage a single property or small portfolio without the support of a professional agent.
    We should all get together, agents, portals, suppliers and partners, ARLA, UKALA, NALS etc. and deliver a hard hitting, far reaching campaign that sees landlords in their droves taking up the services of professional agents. This can be done!

    1. jeremy1960

      Putting the words “hard hitting far reaching campaign” in the same sentence as ARLA is just wrong!

    2. Clare Hayes

      I agree Andy Halstead – what a massive opportunity that is out there.  Once again the larger corporate companies dictate management fee levels without offering the customer service but actually there are SO many landlords out there who just do not know what to do when it goes wrong then panic and seek advice from agents.

      My dream is that with all of the legislation changes and the introduction of landlords to be members of redress scheme etc, then the councils and government need to police the sector more to give GOOD agents like ourselves a chance.  The statistics clearly show that there will be a shortage of property if PRS landlords continue to ‘give up’ with it.

  6. DSS59

    Strange… when I surveyed all my landlords 100% of landlords said they did use an Agent!

    1. jeremy1960

      DSS59, I hope that you’ve sent gov an invoice for that research!


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