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.