Buy-to-let landlords collectively contribute £16.1bn to the British economy through pre-tax spending, which is almost double the estimated £8.5bn a decade ago, according to a new report from Kent Reliance.

The new ‘Tracking landlords’ costs and economic contributions’ report, part of the lender’s ‘Buy to Let Britain’ research series, states that spending per property stands at £3,571 before tax or mortgage interest.

However, more than a third – 36% – of landlords are looking to cut their annual spending as rising running costs and higher taxes bite, the study by the specialist mortgage lender, which forms part of OneSavings Bank plc., shows.

Property upkeep and maintenance was the most popular area identified by 46% of landlords for potential cost cutting, followed by property improvement at 38%. Some 29% hope to cut their outlay on mortgage interest payments, while close to a quarter – 24% – of landlords hope to save on letting agent fees.

The study found that if landlords’ fees climb once the Tenant Fees Bill is introduced on 1 June 2019, we may see a greater number shop around, or consider self-managing their portfolio.

Meanwhile, one in five landlords plan to increase rents to cover the higher costs they face.

Adrian Moloney, sales director of OneSavings Bank, said: “The political discourse around the private rented sector has been one-sided to say the least. Overlooked is the significant economic contribution landlords make, supporting thousands of jobs through their spending and housing a large portion of the country’s workforce. Instead, landlords have faced punitive tax and regulatory changes, at a time when running costs are climbing.

“Policies that increase the cost and complexity of being a landlord don’t benefit tenants; quite the opposite. Property investors will seek to protect their business’s margins, whether cutting their spending on elements like property maintenance and improvement, or raising rents. The recent reforms are also deterring new investment, especially from amateur landlords. This does little to tackle the housing market’s chronic undersupply of property.”

“Further intervention could prove counterproductive with many landlords still coming to terms with change. A heavy-handed version of rent control that prevents them from absorbing rising costs, for instance, could prove to be a tipping point leading to a dwindling supply of rental homes. However, there is a real opportunity to align longer term tenancies to fixed-term mortgage products. This would not only provide stability within the sector but provide a platform for the private rental sector and the government to work together to create a more positive outcome in the social housing debate.”