UK 

Landlords sit on hands over market uncertainty

Landlords sit on hands over market uncertainty

Nearly half of landlords have decided to sit on their hands while they wait and see how the buy-to-let market is affected by Brexit and regulatory changes.

Shawbrook Bank found 49 per cent of landlords said they were going to wait six to 12 months before they put any measures into place to prevent the impact of the regulatory changes.

The bank's annual BTL Barometre found 22 per cent of landlords cited regulation changes as possible threats while 21 per cent mentioned interest rate movements and 16 per cent cited lending restrictions.

Karen Bennett, managing director of Shawbrook Bank Commercial Mortgages, said: "Stricter affordability tests for portfolio landlords and interest rate rises will make it harder for some to get funding and this month will also see the next phase of reductions in tax relief for buy-to-let, further hitting landlords' profits.

"It is encouraging to see professional landlords adapting their strategy in line with regulatory change, thereby helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

"We have seen a slight cooling as landlords evaluate their options, not rushing into purchases and holding existing property. It is important to recognise however, that buy-to-let remains a crucial component in the wider UK housing landscape, and data suggests that although investors may tread carefully throughout 2018, they retain confidence in the fundamentals of this market."

When it comes to regulatory challenges, the change that has most affected landlords is the reduction on the tax relief for buy-to-let mortgages, with 52 per cent of landlords saying this had the biggest impact.

Landlords said the 3 per cent extra stamp duty levy was the second biggest regulatory change that has had an impact, with 21 per cent feeling the effect of this.

To counteract the changes, some landlords were looking for ways to protect their portfolios and the results found 33 per cent of landlords had already, or were planning to, set up a limited company while 18 per cent intend to re-mortgage and 19 per cent are looking to sell their properties.

Ray Boulger, senior mortgage technical manager at John Charcol, said: "Brexit uncertainly is really only a material factor at the top end of the London market.

"Mortgage lending figures demonstrate very clearly the impact of the various recent regulatory changes. In 2015 gross buy-to-let lending was 17.7 per cent of total mortgage lending but in 2017 had fallen sharply to only 12.8 per cent.

"A positive note for landlords is that the weaker demand for buy-to-let mortgages is incentivising lenders to improve criteria where they have identified there is scope to do so without compromising the quality of lending and strong lender competition is also reflected in the rates on offer."

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