Understanding landlord behaviour in the private rented sector in the UK

Understanding landlord behaviour and decision making is important for researchers, policy makers and practitioners concerned with how to raise standards in the sector. However, existing research on landlord behaviour has mostly been explored from the perspective of tenants with a focus on its impact, rather than on the causes.

This study explores the landscape of landlord behaviour in respect to key decisions that affect tenants’ ability to make a home and investigates the drivers that influence their decisions. The findings are based on a survey completed by 1,002 landlords from across the four nations of the UK and on 68 in-depth interviews with landlords, letting agents and experts in the field.

Key findings include:

  • Some landlords have a proactive approach towards maintaining the physical condition of their properties and exhibit financial behaviours that are highly structured and professional. However, a significant proportion of participants did not adopt these practices and a reactive approach towards maintenance is common.
  • Landlords employ both formal and informal means of selecting tenants and assessing their desirability. Informal approaches are based on highly subjective factors such as personal interactions or tenant characteristics.
  • The landlord-tenant relationship is an important factor that frames landlord behaviour. It influences decisions on using a letting agent, selecting tenants and assessments of their own performance and property condition.
  • Most participants felt that regulatory changes lacked clarity and found it difficult to keep up with the changes. The findings suggest that information is mainly being accessed by landlords as a by-product of contacts made to organisations for other purposes.
  • The findings show that letting agents can play an important role in educating landlords and encouraging compliance. However, landlords’ experiences of letting agents can vary, with many reporting problems and issues with their services.
  • Upcoming or recent regulatory changes that relate to improvements in the physical condition of properties were generally positively received. The reforms that strengthen the position of tenants appear to be viewed less favourably whilst holding more weight in landlords’ overall assessment of the reforms.

Authors: Dr Jennifer Harris and Professor Alex Marsh


Date: November 7, 2022 12:01 am

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