The UK's buy-to-let market celebrated its 18th birthday on October 21st.
In 1996, ARLA and a select panel of lenders that included Paragon Mortgages recognised the need for finance tailored towards the growing demand for private rented property and helped to develop the buy-to-let mortgage market.
Since then, the private rented sector (PRS) has grown from 2.4 million homes to 4.9 million and has overtaken social housing as the second most popular form of accommodation in the country.
The demographics of the rental market has also evolved, with families growing from 13 per cent of all tenants in 1996 to 20 per cent last year.
Commenting on the anniversary, John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, stated: "The buy-to-let market has been a force for good for the wider UK housing market. Before the development of buy-to-let, landlords had few options when considering how best to finance a rented property."
Mr Heron said buy-to-let mortgages provide finance that is "better designed to meet the specific needs of the rental market at much more competitive interest rates and thus helped expand quality and choice in the PRS".
ARLA president Valerie Bannister added that buy-to-let has helped the PRS to become a "thriving force" in the housing market that is growing continually, and has allowed landlords to offer quality and affordable accommodation for tenants.
Last month, Paragon Mortgages said it welcomed the government's attempts to encourage longer tenancies in the rental sector through its Model Tenancy Agreement. In a bit to facilitate this, the lender now offers landlords deals that mean they can provide rental contracts up to 36 months in length.
The organisation's research has also revealed the size of the typical buy-to-let portfolio increased in the third quarter, reaching 14.9 properties. This figure stood at just nine in 2002, demonstrating the continued growth of the rental sector.