Letting agent business and market survey

In December 2023 SAL conducted a survey of its letting agent members to find out how their businesses were faring in the current climate.

84 agents responded to the survey with a collective portfolio of 17,093 private rented sector (PRS) properties under management. Respondents manage an average of 203 properties. Based on an extrapolation of data from this survey and a similar survey we conducted in December 2023 of our landlord members, we estimate that SAL members are involved in owning or managing approximately 159,300 properties in Scotland, 47% of the 340,000 properties in the Scottish private rented sector.

Agents responding to the survey reported that 8% of their previously managed properties have been withdrawn from the private rented sector during 2023, which supports widespread anecdotal evidence of an exodus of landlords from the sector.

On average respondents employ 4.5 members of staff (full time equivalent). 14% have fewer members of staff than this time last year, 13% have more staff and 73% have seen no change in the number of staff employed compared to December 2022.

At the time the survey was carried out, just 3% of the properties under management were being marketed for new tenants. The average time taken to find suitable tenants for available properties was reported to be 11 days, with an average of 47 enquiries per property.

Agents responding to the survey estimated that around 50% of their tenants are paying a rent which is below the open market rental value. This compares to a figure of 40% reported in an identical survey question 12 months ago.

The most significant survey finding was that during 2023 33% of tenants had been issued with a rent increase compared to just 12% of tenants in 2022. This is undoubtedly due to rapidly increasing mortgage rates combined with rent cap legislation and concerns about future rent controls leading landlords to be more assertive about increasing rent as often as permitted.

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