Opinion

Carrying Capacity

David Rutland
Written by David Rutland

There are now 2.5 million private landlords in the UK. How many is too many?

We all know that the UK private rental sector is huge. Even if you aren’t a landlord yourself, you’re probably related to one, or have one in your circle of friends. It’s a relatively easy business to get into. Even with a limited amount of capital, almost anyone can join the ranks of the landed elite.

And recent figures from Ludlow Thompson, based on HMRC figures, showed that in 2015 – 2016, the total number of private landlords in the UK had risen to record breaking 2.5 million individuals.

That means that statistically, one in ten families in the country has a member who rents out property.

If we exclude people under 20 years old, it’s around 5% of individuals.

Not impressive enough? How about this:

There are ten times as many private landlords in the UK as there are nurses employed by the NHS.

There are more private landlords than there were individuals employed by both the Indian National Railways and Indian Armed Forces in 2010.

If you could stack all of the private landlords in Britain end to end, your precarious landlord tower would reach way out beyond the orbit of the moon.

The figure is close to the total number of people working in retail across the entire country (2.9 million).

And why not? As we mentioned in the opening paragraph. Property an insanely easy business to get into, and when it comes down to it, is one of the ultimate expressions of capitalism. If you have money, it’s easy to get more money.

Paid off your mortgage early? Mortgage your home again and buy a couple of flats. Hell, why not push the boat out and buy three? Or a block?

The figure of 2.5 million is an increase of 27% in five years.and has defied increased regulation, HMO crackdowns, fines, and an increasingly disgruntled millennial population, of whom 40% face the prospect of never being able to afford their own home. With figures like that, there’s always going to be a demand for private landlords, HMOs, and there’s always going to be a decent return on investment for people with money to invest.

But can how far can it continue? How many landlords can you actually fit into a small group of islands?

First of all, consider that each landlord owns, on average, 1.8 properties in addition to their main dwelling.

If we fast forward through time to when the majority of the population are millennials or younger, we can immediately discount 40% of UK residents who will be too poor to afford even one property, let alone three or four.

By some complicated maths, cursory examination of statistics, and guesswork, rent.works has figured out that as a nation the UK has a carrying capacity of 5 million landlords.

Any higher than that and they’ll either run out of homes or people to fill them.

Still, that’s enough private landlords to fill 63,000 double decker buses.

Using the current rate at which people are turning their capital into property, we should be hitting the landlord barrier in around 20 years.

What will we do then?

About the author

David Rutland

David Rutland

With a decades long career as a professional writer, David Rutland has worked as a journalist on local, national, and international newspapers, before embarking as a career as a freelancer.

He has ghostwritten several books, as well as producing travel guides, manuals, humour articles, and more internet blogs than you can shake a stick at.

David maintains offices in East London, but spends most of his time in a shed near Liverpool, where he writes, as well as developing apps for Android.

What people say about him:

Arrogant and abrasive - Alan Davis, Editor in Chief North Wales News Group

An absolute liability - Matt Simms, Editor, Vale advertiser

Are you sure this won't get us all arrested? - Mohana Prabhakar, Editor in Chief, Apex News Group

Go and have a shave. You're all prickly - Mrs Donna Rutland.

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