What is an amateur landlord?

What is an amateur landlord?

12:47 PM, 19th October 2013, About 9 years ago 44

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The phrase “amateur landlord” annoys me, I really wish people would stop using it.

First off, if you were a tenant would you want to be dealing with an amateur landlord?

I don’t recall ever seeing an advert on Rightmove or Zoopla which reads “Amateur landlord offers this stunning 3 bed ……” do you?

Would you put the words amateur landlord in you to let advert?

The phrase smacks of the landlord behaving amateurishly or not having a clue about what they are doing doesn’t it? What is an amateur landlord?

Dictionary definitions of the word amateur include:-

  • activity as a pastime rather than as a profession
  • one lacking the skill of a professional
  • not professional; unskillful

Are these the descriptions that people with just one or two rental properties wish to affiliate themselves with?

A landlord who owns just one property should still act professionally shouldn’t they?

I don’t really understand why the phrase “amateur landlord” ever came about. People who rent out property take an income from the rent, some spend any profits, some reinvest them and all are hoping for capital growth. Whilst this may not be their main profession, and often isn’t, surely they can’t claim to be amateurs? Why would they want to?

Perhaps they don’t want to be called professional landlords in the hope that Consumer Laws will protect them? Well there is no legal definition for what a professional landlord is anyway so I can’t see how that makes any difference. The legal case of OFT vs Foxtons ruled that landlords can be protected by consumer laws, however, the case didn’t set any a criteria for what constitutes a landlord no longer being a consumer.

Would these be consumers?

1) Let’s assume a person earned £500,000 a year as a banker and owned 30 investment properties making a net profit of a further £50,000 a year would that person still be a consumer?

2) Turn the numbers around and let’s assume the banker is making £500,000 of net profit a year from his property portfolio and £50k a year from a non-exec Directorship, what then? Logic might suggest he can’t possibly be a consumer any more because the vast majority of his income comes from being a landlord right? Well I’m not so sure about that either.

3) What about a housewife who owns one property making £50 a month profit after all expenses and has no other income?

The housewife with one property might be the better landlord too, hence more professional?

So is it number of properties which should set the precedent of whether a person remains a consumer or should it be based on what percentage of their earnings relate to rental properties. Based on the three examples above I can’t see logically how it could be either of these.

So, with no precise legal definition for what is a consumer landlord why do we have all these other tags?

Why aren’t landlords referred to as landlords?

If we must have further definitions I suggest the following:-

  1. Accredited Landlord – I like this one providing it refers to accreditation by education, not some “jobs for the boys” Council run scheme which inspects properties. I think it should be compulsory for all landlords to be accredited if they wish to manage their own properties.
  2. Rogue landlord – this is meaningless, either they are criminals or they are not.
  3. Portfolio landlord – a person who owns three or more properties (still a consumer though)
  4. Accidental landlord – that’s almost as bad as amateur isn’t it?
  5. Landlady – such a people run pubs or Guest houses. The legal definition of a female who rents out property is a landlord.
  6. Consumer – a landlord who is protected by unfair consumer contract terms – legal definition is required
  7. Sophisticated investor – a landlord who is not a consumer

Thoughts please?



Vanessa Warwick

17:48 PM, 21st October 2013, About 9 years ago

My believe is that we educate and empower good tenants and good landlords to find one another.

This will leave the rogue landlords and rogue tenants to find one another, and have some chance of cancelling each other out!

A very simplistic view, I know, but one that I think can work by good landlords working together and promoting best practice to new landlords via forums such as P118 and Property Tribes.

Remember, we didn't have these communities even 5 years ago, so they are an amazing way to connect and share and ensure that new landlords get the right information to run their properties as a business.

Robust and healthy debate is an important part of that process, as we can ALL learn. 🙂

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118 View Profile

18:08 PM, 21st October 2013, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "21/10/2013 - 17:30":

Well I kept the secret for a very long time John but if you read the thread on the following link, particularly the exchanges between myself and Ben Reeve-Lewis you will have your answer 🙂 >>> http://www.property118.com/enforcement-not-legislation-prs-hit-squads/43894/


20:19 PM, 22nd October 2013, About 9 years ago

Wait a minute....
Go back a bit...Dictionary definitions of the word amateur include:-
•activity as a pastime rather than as a profession

•one lacking the skill of a professional
•not professional; unskillful

Based on that a lot of landlords are Amateurs. - Step back and think about when you bought your first property! mine was for my Daughter and I new and cared nothing for the rules. Mind you it was 16 years ago and there were not as many rules then. There are still loads of Amateur investors who believe everything the letting agent says! Even those that go it alone often have no idea about what they don't know that is relevant to landlords. I'm in the Portsmouth area so we have c3 and c4 licencing. I speak to people with unlicenced HMO's every month because they don't know the definition of an HMO is now being treated more seriously.
So Amateur is a Valid description.
Allan W

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118 View Profile

20:24 PM, 22nd October 2013, About 9 years ago

...... and that's why I think the education based model for landlord accreditation should be compulsory for those who with to self manage and for those who are not accredited they should only be allowed to use an accredited agent

Andrew Taylor

23:47 PM, 22nd October 2013, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "22/10/2013 - 20:24":

Totally agree

Colin Childs

18:02 PM, 25th October 2013, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "allan wadsworth" at "22/10/2013 - 20:19":

Spot on Allan.

Applies to many aspects of business life these days. A lack of professionalism abounds. Though I believe the corner is slowly turning. As it's reputable people that will ultimately succeed. In this age of instant communication reputations can be destroyed in seconds.


12:23 PM, 27th October 2013, About 9 years ago

Any landlords who want to be classed as amateur so that they are covered by consumer protection law, perhaps should be allowed to as long as they repay the tax relief they will have received on their expenses claimed for running a business...


12:32 PM, 27th October 2013, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rayhan Rafiq Omar" at "21/10/2013 - 15:09":

You should be glad your child did not have meningitis. It can kill so quickly that tomorrow would probably have been too late.


13:01 PM, 27th October 2013, About 9 years ago

Accidental landlord, I'm ok with this term, as this is someone who did not intend to become one but had to move for work and could not sell.

Amateur, I am an amateur and I employ a professional letting agent, although I might be called professional because I have had a handful of rented properties for more than 10 years.

Letting property is not a profession (unless you act as agent) but it is a business. An investment business. If you manage your own properties and you're not a professional (i.e. ARLA approved for example, know all the legislation, provide all the certification) then you are an amateur and in big trouble. In any case if you earn rent which is declarable to HMRC then it is a business and consumer law should not apply. Unless we're all covered by it and kiss the tax advantages goodbye.

There is another term "sophisticated investor" see article below. But every one has has to play by the same rules. If the "would-be amateurs" want special treatment because the terms of the change specify it for one property, where will they draw the line? They will come after everyone even those with only one.

This has to be fought for all otherwise it is meaningless and those who think they are a special case just join in with the rest. If you have moved twice and decided to let rather than sell that is a good business or investment decision and it makes you a landlord. If you're not a sophisticated investor, become one, it's not a game and it's not easy money. Do your homework.

It's a case of "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen"


Without wishing to be a wet blanket, I think most mortgage terms reserve the right to alter them at any time, or is that a more recent development?

Vanessa Warwick

14:02 PM, 28th October 2013, About 9 years ago


I have to agree with you.

It is not right to want all the benefits of being a landlord without accepting the associated risks and responsibilities.

Landlords who treat their properties as a business and their tenants as "valued customers" are far more likely to succeed than those who are "doing it on the side" imho.

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