Number of UK landlords using letting agents on the rise
The proportion of landlords in the UK who use a letting agent to help manage their property has increased since the end of last year, according to a new survey of property investors.
Some 61% of landlords say they currently use a letting agent to manage their properties, a rise of 7% since the fourth quarter of 2016, according to research published by the National Landlords Association (NLA).
It says that this sudden rise represents a break from the norm as the proportion of landlords who use an agent has remained relatively consistent over the last few years, having only risen 1% from 53% to 54% between 2014 and 2016.
The research also shows the proportion of landlords who self-manage has decreased by nearly 10% over the last year, falling from 46% to 39%.
The findings show that more landlords in the North East use an agent compared to any other English region, although agent usage is highest in Scotland at 79% while in the North West there has been a 5% decrease since the end of 2016 and landlords are the least reliant on agents compared to other UK regions with 56% doing so.
Meanwhile in outer London, the South West, and Wales there has also been significant increases in reliance on agents from landlords.
It is suggested that recent changes to buy to let taxation, as well as the planned ban on charging fees to tenants in England, are having an effect and even increasing the strains on letting agents’ and landlords’ businesses.
‘As landlords plan ahead to compensate for the tax changes over the next few years we would expect to see the number who use an agent to slowly fall away, and for more to start considering whether they are able to manage their properties themselves,’ said Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive officer.
‘However, this sudden spike, which is completely out of step with recent trends, completely turns this theory on its head. The big question is whether or not it’s a blip or if it will continue to rise,’ he added.
According to Richard Price, executive director of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) the fact that more landlords are relying on agents is testament to the professional work undertaken by the vast majority of agents in the private rented sector.
‘It is an uncertain time for anyone who owns a buy to let property, so the steady hand of a reputable agent is exactly what many landlords are looking for right now,’ he added.