Landlords optimistic about buy-to-let despite tax changes

Landlords optimistic about buy-to-let despite tax changes

Most landlords feel optimistic about the current UK buy-to-let environment, figures released today (15 August) suggest.

Research by estate and letting agency Your Move showed 52 per cent of landlords felt positive about their position in the current economic and political climate - compared with 16 per cent feeling negative about their landlord status.

Your Move’s landlord sentiment survey interviewed almost 1,100 landlords in June and found the general outlook to be confident, despite stricter regulatory and tax changes in recent years.

In 2017, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) introduced more stringent affordability rules and stricter underwriting guidelines for portfolio landlords. 

Stamp duty rules were also reformed, with the government introducing a 3 per cent surcharge on second properties in 2016.

On top of this, landlords are seeing their mortgage tax relief gradually cut from higher rate relief to 20 per cent by 2020.

Your Move found 64 per cent of landlords surveyed were unlikely to sell a property in the next year, a figure the agency suggested showed landlords were holding out and thinking about long-term investment.

It found landlords’ most important considerations when evaluating their investments were ongoing maintenance costs and the potential for long-term profit, with 83 per cent and 80 per cent of landlords citing these as priorities respectively.

Brexit featured low down on landlords’ list of concerns, with 32 per cent of those surveyed considering it a factor in their buy-to-let dealings.

Martyn Alderton, national lettings director at Your Move and Reeds Rains, said given the number of regulatory and tax changes in the buy-to-let market over the last few years, it would not be surprising if landlords felt some trepidation about the future.

He said: "It is great to see that the landlords we surveyed do, for the most part, remain positive about the future.

"Our research shows the majority of landlords are in it for the long term and that is important for the well-being of the private rental sector, providing much needed homes for those who cannot yet afford, or do not wish to purchase due to lifestyle choices."

Similarly to Your Move, mortgage lender Foundation Home Loans recently found 18 per cent of UK landlords expect to remain a landlord indefinitely, unperturbed by tax and regulatory changes.

Jeff Knight, managing director at Foundation Home Loans, said whilst positivity had grown, he believes there was still some uncertainty driven by the unknowns surrounding the market.

He said: "More than most of the hurdles facing landlords, the PRA changes changed the way in which buy-to-let mortgage applications are underwritten for portfolio landlords.

"One of the aims was to ‘push out’ so-called dinner-party landlords and professionalise the sector - tellingly, our own research found three quarters (74 per cent) of portfolio landlords questioned would now class themselves as a professional landlord."

Under the PRA changes, borrowers with four or more properties are now classified as portfolio landlords, and subject to the new standards.