Crunching the numbers
The results of our recent landlord and agent surveys are in.
Landlord investment survey
In February 2022, SAL conducted a survey of its landlord members to enquire about the size of their rental property portfolio and how this has changed or will change over time, along with the reasons for their investment decisions.
In total 635 landlords responded to the survey with a collective private rented sector (PRS) portfolio of 4,214 properties and an average size of seven properties. Thirty-five per cent reported that they have expanded the size of their portfolio over the past 10 years. Twenty-eight per cent have reduced their portfolio size and 36 per cent have not made changes to the number of PRS properties they own.
Looking ahead to members’ plans for the next 10 years, the picture is quite different, with 34 per cent of respondents planning to reduce the size of their portfolio and just 19 per cent planning to increase the number of PRS properties they own. The remainder are either unsure about their plans or intend to keep their portfolio at the same size.
Members planning to reduce their portfolio size were asked the reasons why. A clear majority cited increasing regulation in the sector (63 per cent of those planning a reduction in property numbers) and perceived hostility towards landlords from government/politicians (60 per cent) as factors in their plans.
Comments from members who took part in the survey included:
“I had intended to increase my portfolio but punitive taxation and increasingly negative rhetoric around private landlords by both Holyrood and Westminster have changed this.”
“I take great pride in providing a good home, together with hands-on service, for my tenants for not a great financial return, and yet feel vilified by the government and the press for all my hard work.”
“I’m pleased to be getting out of renting properties which we have done for almost 20 years, due to increased regulation, how landlords are perceived and bad experiences with previous tenants.”
Landlords operating in the PRS provide much-needed accommodation, flexibility and choice to the housing market. These stark survey findings, which indicate that as many as a third of landlords in Scotland are planning to reduce the size of their portfolios, should be of great concern to the Scottish Government and MSPs.
If we assume that these survey results are representative of the plans of landlords throughout Scotland, then we can expect to see a reduction of around 11 per cent in the volume of properties available in the PRS over the next 10 years.
The 11 per cent figure is based on Scottish Government landlord registration data for 2021, 34 per cent of the 240,854 registered landlords reducing their portfolio by one property and 19 per cent increasing their portfolio by one property. This would result in a fall of 36,128 in the number of properties in the PRS, a drop of 11 per cent from the figure of 338,564 registered properties.
PRS properties are already in short supply in many areas of Scotland and any further reduction in numbers has the potential to drive up rents and impact most on the ability of vulnerable tenants to access housing in the sector.
Agent business survey
In February 2022, SAL conducted a survey of its Council of Letting Agents (CLA) members to find out how their business is faring in the current climate.
Ninety-three agents responded to the survey with a collective portfolio of 20,814 PRS properties under management. Respondents manage an average of 223 properties and employ 5 members of staff. Thirty-eight per cent are managing fewer properties than they were 12 months ago. Thirty-four per cent are managing more properties and 28 per cent have seen no change in the number of properties under management.
Of those who have seen a reduction in the number of properties under management, the most common reason for this was landlords taking properties back to sell (experienced by 97 per cent of those reporting a reduction in numbers), followed by landlords taking properties back for themselves or their family to move into (reported by 31 per cent of those who’ve seen a reduction in numbers).
The majority of respondents are reporting a reduction in the number of vacant properties being marketed for tenants over the past 12 months. A year ago the reported number of properties being marketed averaged 11.4 whereas it is now down by exactly 50 per cent to 5.7.
Comments from members taking part in the survey included:
“Over the past 12 months we have had prolonged periods of having no properties to let. When we do market a property we are inundated with enquiries. Tenants are struggling to find a home.”
“I’m positive about the business but staffing is a nightmare, as is the constant onslaught from the SNP and the Greens.”
“The publicity is that greedy landlords are putting up rents and the reality is that it’s government charges/policies that lead to increased charges, no mortgage relief means there is little if any profit to be made for landlords. Coupled with tenants simply not paying rent as the government say they can’t be evicted it’s not a fantastic time for vilified landlords.”
“I feel positive as we have negotiated our way through the difficult pandemic years well. The lack of properties to let is certainly something I haven’t seen in my many years in this job, so I find it a bit unsettling.”
“New legislation from a pro-tenant government is making renting property less of a viable investment opportunity for landlords. The potential of rent capping again will discourage new investors coming into the market. House sale prices will not be capped.”
The starkest finding from this survey is the 50 per cent reduction reported in the number of available properties, which backs up reports we have heard from many members of pressures on tenants looking for a home in the PRS. With a SAL landlord member survey conducted at the same time showing that a third of respondents plan to reduce their PRS portfolio over the next 10 years, we can expect to see levels of availability drop still further in coming years.
Do you agree with the findings?
Will you be selling up or investing more? What’s your experience as a landlord or letting agent just now and what are your future plans? Let us know via email@example.com