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By Richard Rowntree

Managing Director for Mortgages, Paragon Bank


Now is the time to change outdated perceptions of landlords

Let’s face facts, landlords and the private rented sector have a reputation problem. Perceived to be the poor relation of housing provision, the sector is unloved, misunderstood and certainly misrepresented. 

From the stereotype of the poor family hiding from the sinister Victorian landlord, to the modern day ‘Landlords from Hell’ TV programmes that populate our more sensationalist channels, privately renting is typically associated with negativity. 

Very rarely do we hear about the benefits landlords and the private rented sector have brought to the housing market and the millions of people who rent. It’s now time to move that conversation on and change the perceptions of privately renting as the reality is rather different. 


The vast majority of landlords provide good quality homes; they view their tenants as customers or clients. They invest in the property, helping to drive up standards of rented homes. They comply with the myriad – and growing list – of regulations that govern the sector. 

We commissioned the Social Market Foundation to examine how tenants feel about privately renting and what can be done to improve the experience of renters. You can download the full report on Paragon’s website.

The SMF surveyed nearly 1,400 tenants and the results will cause some surprise to those not close to the sector - 81% of renters say they are happy with their current property, and 85% said they are satisfied with their landlord. Satisfaction with private renting is particularly high among older renters: nearly three-quarters (74%) of those aged 55 and over report being satisfied.

Private renters particularly value not having to pay for repairs, or insurance and other costs, whilst some also see it as a way to afford more expensive locations or to live more flexibly. It’s a far cry from the image of ‘reluctant renters’ who are unhappy with their home and landlord. 

In fact, the greatest gripe about renting is with “being a renter”, though still only a minority (34%) say they are dissatisfied with this status. Too often the narrative around renting is set by our politicians. Getting people on the housing ladder is a vote winner, facilitating a thriving rental sector is not. 

Therefore, we get a black and white picture painted by those in power and renting is often framed negatively. We need a more nuanced debate regarding the pros and cons of renting, as well as how to create a private rented sector fit for purpose for years to come. 

The SMF’s report made some interesting recommendations and should help stimulate that debate. For example, it recognises that most renters ultimately want to move into home ownership, so how do we support renters to build wealth? Another area is giving tenants greater stability, as well as how to create a private rented sector fit for purpose for years to come. 

The SMF’s report made some interesting recommendations and should help stimulate that debate. For example, it recognises that most renters ultimately want to move into home ownership, so how do we support renters to build wealth? Another area is giving tenants greater stability, as well as more control over their homes. A large majority of renters support a fixed minimum contract length; 69% would be in favour of setting this at 24 months.

They also want to make it easier to keep pets or make reasonable alterations, such as to décor or energy efficiency. That seems a sensible and reasonable focus. 

Finally, the SMF recommends that to help improve the standard of private rented properties, the Government offers tax incentives to encourage landlords to invest. 

Today, millions of people call the private rented sector home. And, looking at the SMF forecasts, it is likely that going forward, more people will be living in rented homes for longer. 

So, let’s stop perpetuating the myths and misconceptions about renting, recognise the benefits renting delivers to individuals, communities and the economy and let’s discuss how we can make privately renting even better for tenants.   

* Richard Rowntree is Managing Director for Mortgages, Paragon Bank *

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    If we are the '' poor relation of housing provision'' what does that make the social housing providers ? now they really are the landlords from hell !

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    The results of this survey show how well private landlords are actually doing and how the vast majority of tenants are very satisfied with their landlords.

    NONE of the lefty politicians - or ANY politicians - enjoy such high approval ratings - so they should stop courting the small majority of rogue tenants bolstered by their rabble rousers in Shelter, Acorn, Generation Rant etc and listen to the moderate majority of both landlords and tenants.

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    IRobert,bits not the game though is it, and that is it's a shakedown of the PRS.

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    I wondered why their was no kickback from the mortgage lenders, who could be ruined by this attack on the PRS. It could easily become another sub prime crisis like 2008.

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    The demands are not reasonable. Badly tenant installed insulation can cause thousands to correct. Pets in a property WILL cause thousands of damage. Changing decor from neutral to "personalised" can cause hundreds to put right. So Richard is wrong. These tenant requests are not "Reasonable" Richard.

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    Richard says:" The image of the PRS is wrong, but let's address the false image anyway".

    NO, the image must be challenged as false, never support a false image by acting on it, as if it is real.

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    Agree with Neil H, comment 10th April 2.06am I have had it all, when they get a property in good condition accept it the way it is or don’t take it, they are not buying it.

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    I see references to some of my comments 3 weeks afterwards. I don’t have the capacity or time for back checking no offence.

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    At last someone standing up for us …. And where are the NRLA in this once again??? …. Nowhere!! We need a new body that understands the basic concept of PR.

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    We make a fantastic scapegoat for all that is wrong with the governments supply of housing, if they can gas light the PRS then the total failure of social housing provision gets hidden. It’s nice to have confirmed what I already knew, but it will not save us.


    But who cares Simon, they can call me all the names they like why would I care ? I'm the man laughing all the way to the bank, sticks and stones and all that

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Or the Govt could have a brilliant idea of giving Landlords a tax incentive to make homes more energy efficient.
    Wait a minute, wasn't something like that done before and abolished in 2014 !!
    Foot, shoot - whilst the Housing Civil servants pedal around in their wheel.

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    Hey guys reading reading and responding to the the post.
    It's about time some positiveish reports are being published.
    Not that the rental rousers will see it as that.
    We see that 80% agree with the PRS
    They see the 20% that dont.
    This 20% shouts because they feel disenfranchised by everyone else.
    We don't! We are to busy keeping society housed

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    Hey guys,
    As a provider of strategically important housing. I wonder what the stats are for housing the Ukainian refugees.
    I expect they will all be taken in by the private sector.
    Which is how it should be.
    Otherwise they would be taking much needed social housing from our own citizens. Who have been on long waiting lists.


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