The number of landlords in the private rental sector has fallen to a seven year low, according to Hamptons International’s monthly lettings index.
Hamptons International estimate that there were 222,570 fewer landlords in the private rental sector in 2019 than in 2017.
The number of landlords peaked at 2.88 million in 2017, but tax and regulatory changes have caused some landlords to sell up and leave the sector.
By 2019 there were 2.66 million landlords in Great Britain, 8% fewer than the 2017 peak.
This means that the number of landlords has fallen to the lowest level in seven years when there were 2.58 million landlords in Great Britain..
Despite this decline, the average landlord now owns more properties.
The average landlord in Great Britain owned 1.93 buy-to-let properties last year, the highest level since 2009 when the average landlord owned 2.02 properties.
Last year, 30% of landlords owned more than one buy-to-let property, the highest proportion on record.
This is up from 21% in 2016 when many of the tax and regulatory changes were announced and is double the proportion recorded a decade ago when 15% of landlords owned multiple buy-to-lets.
Landlords in the North East had the biggest portfolios.
The average landlord based in the North East owned 2.05 properties last year, closely followed by landlords based in Yorkshire & Humber (2.03 properties per landlord) and London (2.01 properties per landlord).
Investors in Wales and Scotland were least likely to have big buy-to-let portfolios, with the average landlord letting out 1.83 properties in each region.
Average rents for new lets rose to £998 pcm in January, up 3.6% on the same time last year.
Rents continued to increase the most in the South West (6.0%), followed by the East (4.1%) and Greater London (4.1%).
Rents rose in every region, but Wales recorded the weakest rental growth at 1.2%.
Over the past two years the rental sector has shrunk, with the number of privately rented homes falling by 156,410 since its peak in 2017.
Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons International, said: “The number of landlords in the private rented sector has fallen to the lowest level in seven years.
“While 222,570 landlords have left the sector since 2017 due to tax and regulatory changes, those who have stayed tend to have bigger portfolios – a further sign that the sector is professionalising.
“The average landlord in Great Britain owned 1.93 properties last year, the highest level since 2009.
“Rents rose in every region across Great Britain in January to stand 3.6% higher than at the same time last year.
“The number of new homes purchased by landlords remains low, which is feeding through to fewer homes available to rent.
“This is particularly true in the South, where rents are rising the most.”