Smaller landlords are exiting the buy-to-let market following cuts to tax relief, according to research from estate agency Hamptons International.
The research found that the number of landlords operating in the UK fell to a seven-year low of 2.66 million in 2019. Hamptons International's Monthly Lettings Index found that the landlord count has dropped 8% from its peak in 2017.
Measures such as the reduction in mortgage tax relief and the 3% stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let properties have had an impact on the market, according to Hamptons International.
The changes are particularly affecting smaller landlords, with the number of landlords who now own just one property falling.
Commenting on the figures, Aneisha Beveridge, Head of Research at Hamptons International, said: '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.'