While the number of landlords has fallen over the last two years there has been a rise in the supply of homes to rent, meaning landlords are expanding their portfolios.
Since 2015 the supply of rented homes has increased from 4.9 million in 2015 to 5.1 million.
Over the same time, landlord numbers have dropped by 154,000 to 3.56 million.
Fewer landlords and more rental properties means the size of the average landlord’s portfolio is the biggest since Countrywide’s records began in 2005.
The average landlord owned 1.44 rented homes in 2017, up from 1.33 in 2015 and a low of 1.24 in 2010.
In 2017, 73% of landlords owned one buy-to-let property, down from 86% in 2010.
The number of landlords who own 10 or more homes has risen by 33% in the last decade.
Landlords based in the North East are likely to own the most rental properties (1.54), followed by those based in Yorkshire and the Humber (1.52) and London (1.51). While London based landlords are more than twice as likely to have a portfolio of 10 or more homes compared to landlords in any other region.
Across Britain, average rents for new lets rose to £954 in August, up 1.6% on the same time last year. Rents increased the most in the South West by 4.7%, in Scotland by 2.8% and East of England by 2.5%. In London rents grew for the second consecutive month, up 1.8% year-on-year.
Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide, said: “The increasing number of rented homes is being driven by landlords expanding their portfolios rather than new landlords entering the market. Increasing regulation in the sector accompanied by recent changes to income tax relief on mortgage interest payments seem to be favouring more experienced, professional landlords. Despite expanding portfolio sizes the sector is still characterised by those owning just one or two homes, 73% of landlords own one home.
“Rents rose in all regions across Great Britain to stand 1.6% up on the same time last year. The number of landlord purchases continues to remain low which is feeding through into fewer homes on the rental market. Rents in London rose for the second consecutive month, driven by a pickup in rents in outer London.”
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