21 Insightful Landlord Statistics 2020

Landlords play a key role in the housing economy. They manage properties for tenants, ensuring people have safe, functional places to live in exchange for a competitive fee.

There are plenty of interesting facts about landlords. Some are unexpected, while others are almost shocking. If you want to know more about landlords, here are 20 insightful landlord statistics for your reading pleasure.

1. 10.6 Million Americans Earn Income from Rental Properties

Approximately 10.6 million American tax filers declared rental income when they filed their taxes. That means about 7.1% of 1040 filers could potentially be landlords.

Additionally, they noted income earned from about 17.7 million properties.

[Source: Internal Revenue Service]

2. Landlords Have an Average Income of $97,000 a Year

While landlords might bring in cash from several sources, their income levels tend to be solid. While the real median household income is just shy of $62,000, landlords bring in closer to $97,000 annually through all of their income sources.

[Source: US Census & Landlordology]

3. Half of All Landlords Manage Their Own Properties

45% of landlords manage their own properties – just north of the 44% that don’t manage the properties they own, instead hiring someone or outsourcing property management to a third party. The remaining 11% consists of landlords that manage, but don’t own their properties.

On average, landlords have three properties to their name. Of those who own the units, it’s about a 50/50 split when it comes to just being the owner and handing management over to someone else, or owning while also managing the properties.

[Source: MySmartMove]

4. Landlords Have Raised Rent Rates an Average of 31% Since 2010

Since 2010, rental rates have gone up dramatically. The average increase comes in at 31%, a rise that would give a property that was rented out for $1,000 a month in 2010 a cost of $1,310 a month today. That’s an additional $3,720 in rent a year.

[Source: iPropertyManagement]

5. About 6% of Rental Properties are Unoccupied

While the exact number of vacancies varies over time, approximately 6% of units are currently (August 2020) considered vacant. Generally, the vacancy rate is influenced by a few factors, including existing economic conditions and the strength of the housing market.

This is far less than the most recent peak, which reached 11.1% in Q3 of 2009. It’s actually fairly close to the lowest low, which was about 5% in the early 1980s.

[Source: FRED]

6. Landlords Screen an Average of Two Applicants Per Vacancy

Renting out a property isn’t first-come, first-serve in many cases. Instead, landlords screen an average of two applicants every time they need to fill a vacant property.

[Source: MySmartMove]

7. Only 89% of Landlords Cover Property Repair Costs

Not having to worry about property repairs is one of the biggest draws of being a tenant. However, not all landlords handle that burden.

While the vast majority (89%) of landlords take care of property repairs, 11% don’t. That means tenants get stuck maintaining the house or apartment.

[Source: Porch]

8. Landlords Handle 6 Repair Calls a Year from Tenants

On average, landlords field six calls a year from their tenants about property repairs. This can include anything from major appliance failures to plumbing draining issues.

[Source: Porch]

9. 13% of Landlords Change Lightbulbs for Their Tenants

Replacing a lightbulb might seem like a small cost that most tenants could shoulder. However, 13% of landlords actually handle that burden after being contacted by a tenant.

[Source: Porch]

10. Over 100,000 Apartments Are Owned by One Investment Trust

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) make it possible to invest in a wide range of properties to earn a profit. Typically, they aren’t just owners of the properties; the trust manages it, too. As a result, the trust can become a mega-landlord, overseeing hundreds or thousands of properties.

One such trust – MAA, an REIT based in Tennessee – is the largest REIT in the nation. In total, it had 100,031 apartments to its name in 2020.

[Source: Statista]

11. “Mom and Pop” Landlords Own 22.7 Million Rental Units

Overall, about 16.7 million properties, featuring 22.7 million rental units, are owned by “mom and pop” landlords, the term for individual investors. Usually, this involves smaller buildings. For example, mom and pop landlords are more likely to have single-family or smaller multi-family buildings, such as duplexes, instead of massive apartment buildings.

[Source: US Census]

12. 25.8 Million Rental Units Are Owned by Businesses or Partnerships

Many rental properties aren’t owned by individuals or families. Instead, businesses, collectives, and similar entities control the units.

In total, approximately 25.8 rental units are owned by some kind of business entity. Usually, the units are in multi-family properties, like apartment buildings.

[Source: US Census]

13. The Average Landlord Has Three Properties

On average, landlords have three properties to their name. The value of those properties isn’t necessarily through the roof: 40% of landlords own less than $200,000 worth of property, and an additional 30% fall in the $200,000-$400,000 range. Only 30% of landlords own properties worth $400,000 or more, with 7% at the top owning properties worth $1 million or more.

[Source: MySmartMove]

14. 75% of Landlords Want Rent Payments on the 1st

While there’s no rule saying exactly when a landlord has to collect rent, 75% of landlords say the 1st of the month is when they require payment. While it isn’t clear why in the survey, by having all tenants pay on the same day, it creates consistency. Plus, many kinds of government benefits issues payments on the 1st, so that could also be a factor.

[Source: Landlordology]

15. When It Comes to Rent Collection, 78% of Landlords Collect Personal Checks

Paying by check is increasingly becoming antiquated, falling out of favor for retail shopping, and even paying many bills. However, when it comes to rent, 78% of landlords collect personal checks from tenants.

Only 10% rely on bank-to-bank transfers, and a mere 7% use payment services like PayPal or Zelle. One surprising option is credit cards, a payment method that 5% of landlords use.

[Source: Landlordology]

16. 41% of Properties Experience Some Form of Vacancy Every Year

During a typical year, 41% of properties experience some kind of vacancy. A vacancy could be caused by tenants leaving at the end of a lease, due to an eviction, or by breaking the lease early. Additionally, other incidents that require the unit to be empty, such as catastrophic damage that makes a property unlivable for a time, could also be involved.

[Source: Foremost Insurance Group]

17. Half of Single Property Landlords Purchased the Property as a Primary Residence

When it comes to single property landlords, 50% of them didn’t initially buy it as an investment property. Instead, the unit began as their primary residence, later transitioning into a rental property.

[Source: Foremost Insurance Group]

18. 16% of Landlords Don’t Run Criminal Background Checks, and 10.3% Never Check Credit

While it may seem like a standard screening tactic, 16% of landlords never run criminal background checks on their tenants. Possibly more surprising is that 10.3% don’t check a tenant’s credit as part of the process.

Only 37.6% and 38.7% of landlords always check a tenant’s criminal background and credit history, respectively.

[Source: Porch]

19. 48.7% of Landlords Have Asked a Tenant to Leave Early

A tenant’s lease usually dictates how long a tenant has a right to stay in a property, suggesting they don’t break the rules. However, 48.7% of landlords have actually requested that a tenant break their lease and head for the door sooner.

[Source: Porch]

20. Evicting a Tenant May Cost a Landlord Up to $10,000

When tenants don’t pay rent, landlords are down a source of income. At times, they may even be losing more money if they have to handle costs associated with the occupied property without getting rent in return. As a result, when non-payment is an issue, many landlords start eviction proceedings in hopes of getting the non-paying tenant out and a paying tenant in.

However, choosing to evict a tenant can be a costly move. Eviction filings and proceedings can cost landlords up to $10,000. Even the least expensive eviction can run $3,500.

[Source: SmartMove]

21. Two-Thirds of Landlords are College Grads, and More Than Half Are 35+ Years Old

Overall, 66% of landlords graduated from college. Additionally, 56% are at least 35 years old.

[Source: MySmartMove]

Bottom Line

The world of landlords is always changing. Economic conditions influence the success of landlords, as well as the general public’s interest in becoming homeowners or remaining renters.

The statistics above showcase some of the most intriguing tidbits about the landlord landscape, including how many people didn’t buy a property with the intent of being a landlord, the typical demographics of a landlord, and more. It’s a diverse area – one that features a mix of people and businesses – and one that’s important for understanding both the housing market and the economy in as a whole.