The social science evidence base on landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) has always been limited in scope and detail. This absence of evidence has had significant implications for both the regulation of the PRS at the micro level and wider public and political debate on the macro implications of the expansion of the PRS for tenants, public policy and society. To address this gap in evidence, the Strategic Society Centre designed and published research into the characteristics of private landlords in the UK, entitled Understanding Landlords. This discussion paper provides accompanying policy analysis of the findings of Understanding Landlords, and recommendations for policymakers. The findings show that despite representing around 2% of the adult population, private landlords are in a privileged position compared to other social groups (including tenants) whether in relation to education, earnings, wealth or the size of their homes.
Most private landlords have only one other property beside their main home. The median total net property wealth of private landlords is £333,999 and the mean is £479,598. The mean financial wealth of private landlords is £75,103 and the median is £20,500. Around one in three private landlords live in London and the South East. In addition to being significantly wealthier than private tenants, most private landlords are strongly attached to letting as an activity, are financially secure and many (62%) report they would be able to cope permanently with a 25% reduction in their income without any difficulty. As such, it appears that most private landlords could absorb a significant strengthening of
tenant rights - for example, in relation to minimum secure periods – that might reduce the profitability of their letting activity. Indeed, the findings of Understanding Landlords suggest that any changes to the regulation of private letting that favour tenants over landlords would not result in significant numbers of private landlords either leaving the PRS or struggling financially.