The Changing Image of the UK Private Landlord with the Buy to Let Revolution

Farhad Farnood, Colin Jones

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There has been a long-standing negative image associated with private landlords. Private rented housing in the UK expanded dramatically after the millennium with the wide availability of buy-to-let mortgages. New types of people were attracted to private landlordism. It was arguably an opportunity to turn the page on historic negativity. However, these landlords were often seen as ‘get-rich-quick’ speculators. Our study combines historical analysis of media items, a review of legislation and an interview survey of landlords. It addresses to what extent the image of landlords has changed, discusses the response of government regulation to the BTL revolution and how it has been conditioned by perceptions about landlords. The study finds that the buy-to-let revolution has not fundamentally changed public perceptions of landlords, and the media still portray landlords with the ‘rogue’ epithet, a seemingly inevitable part of the headline. It has coloured public and political perspectives. Interviews with landlords reveal a resignation and sanguinity about their public image, which they see as belying their contribution to society. The negative perceptions have contributed to public policy bringing a string of consumer rights for tenants and attacking speculation by increasing taxation on landlords. In addition, there is a continuing narrative of ‘rogue landlords’ that has obliged the government to take specific measures to address this perceived problem. However, the landlords’ responses suggest that perceptions alone are unlikely to deter current or future landlords. Despite the recent policy changes private landlordism is a profitable activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-259
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Housing and the Built Environment
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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