A recent report produced by the TDS Charitable Foundation, and co-authored by television presenter and recognised property expert, Kate Faulkner, calls for more policy-making and information sharing that will support private landlords.

'Who are the individual landlords providing rented accommodation?' collected data from more than 200 landlords across the UK, and compared it to findings of other research, to try and determine the profile of a 'real' landlord.

The purpose of the research was to uncover core demographics of the typical landlord and the support they might need, in the hope that policy-makers will take notice and deliver an improved private rented sector (PRS) for both tenants and landlords.

The survey asked why landlords invested in property, whether this provides their main source of income and what experience they have in buy-to-let.

It also highlighted that, contrary to negative media reports about greedy landlords, many landlords do not invest in property for a purely financial gain. Many of them do so to help family and friends and most do not expect to maximise initial gains through rental income in the short-term, but rather capital value in the long-term.

With this theme as a backdrop, the report carried out research to highlight the need for enhanced communication and education for landlords as opposed to unclear and restrictive legislation.

The key findings from the report are:

- The majority of landlords are aged over 55

- Most landlords have only one rental property

- One fifth of landlords still rent out a home they used to live in

- Rental income is only primary source of income for 35% of landlords

- Most landlords run their buy-to-let portfolios alongside another job or business

- Just under 30% of landlords own their property without a mortgage

- Under a third of landlords use an agent to find tenants and fully manage their properties

- Nearly 40% of landlords are not members of any association or scheme

- 27% of landlords describe their legal knowledge as 'average', 'limited' or don't know'.

The report claims that there are no easily accessible and reliable resources to educate the diverse demographic of landlords about buy-to-let and that the internet can contain a lot of misinformation.

It also states that: "Far more needs to be done by the buy-to-let industry as a whole, with Government and local authorities working together with the finance and property industry to ensure that quality, up-to-date buy-to-let and letting advice is available from trusted sources."

The reasoning for this is that too much policy-making has been based on the assumption that 'profit is the only motive [for landlords] or that they [landlords] are just letting by accident'.

The report even references how forcing or encouraging landlords to sell could have a negative impact on tenants and the sector as a whole: "The transfer of properties from the PRS to homeowners could result in a fast reduction of stock levels in the PRS, making it more difficult for tenants to find properties to rent and potentially driving rents upwards."

In summary, the report concludes that education is key to providing a successful PRS and that a more co-ordinated approach to landlord associations, accreditation and licensing is needed.

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