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New research gives detailed profile of 'typical' buy to let investor

Research undertaken by one of Britain’s leading rental sector experts and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme Charitable Foundation gives perhaps the most detailed profile yet of the ‘typical buy to let investor’.

The research - led by Propertychecklists’ creator and buy to let expert Kate Faulkner - reveals that letting agents still have substantial inroads to make in getting the maximum number of landlords to use their services. 

The findings include:

- Landlords are mostly over 55 years old;

- The older the landlord, the more reliant they are on rental income;

- Many started/still rent out a home they originally lived in;

- Most landlords have one property;

- The majority of landlords are not full time and either run a business or have another job;

- Landlords’ occupations vary and include those in education, the forces, IT, finance, engineering, civil service, transport, legal services and journalism;

- Landlords invest for a variety of reasons, not all being financial gain, for example to help house family and friends;

- There is confusion among landlords over the law and regulations in lettings;

- Legislative and regulation changes appear more likely to be implemented if the rules are clear, concise and consistently reported and communicated;

- There are no ‘stand out’ places for landlords to seek advice.

The basis for the research was relatively small - 205 landlords - but the survey involved 24 detailed questions and data was collected and analysed via Surveymonkey.com. The participants responded through Facebook, Twitter and the Propertychecklists.co.uk newsletter. 

The survey provided insight into landlords’ demographics, primary income and profession as well as the primary motive for investing in buy to let or why they rented out their original home. Further analysis was carried out to assess landlords’ awareness and understanding of their legal obligations and legislative changes in the letting industry and the results used to identify gaps in landlord education. 

The findings also look at a raft of other surveys conducted by ARLA, the department of Communities and Local Government, Shelter and the University of York.   

The Faulkner/TDS Charitable Foundation report concludes by saying there are three things required to deliver a successful and safe private rental sector:

1. For the government, local authorities, industry and the media to consistently recommend trusted sources of information about the pros and cons of buy-to-let investment. 

2. For the media and industry – agents, mortgage lenders, insurance companies, legal companies, tradespeople and lettings expert groups – to provide consistent information about: 

a)  preparing a property so it is let legally;

b)  keeping up with changes in changes in the law and regulations;

c)  property maintenance rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant;

d)  the property maintenance experts required for specific problems in the PRS, such as damp, mould and condensation; 

e) who to turn to if they have questions for independent, free advice and when and who they will need paid advice from, e.g. evictions. 

3. Good landlords and letting agents who abide by the law and proactively prove to lenders, insurers and the industry that they are maintaining properties to a good standard should be rewarded. This could be in the form of ‘special deals’ or incentives through tax breaks, free briefings or free/discounted energy performance certificates. 

You can see the full report here.

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