Changes in mortgage tax relief that could mean lower profits are not deterring landlords around the UK from divesting of their property portfolios. And many are even considering expanding them as they snap up houses for sale in London and elsewhere, according to new research and a number of studies.
The optimistic outlook among landlords comes despite a general slowdown in rents that could further sap earnings and a housing crisis that seems to be getting worse. According to the National Association of Estate Agents, eleven would-be buyers are battling to purchase every new house or flat that enters the market, as the number of properties available continues to fall.
Meanwhile, those involved in the thriving buy-to-let market will be hit by the government’s new tax measures that come into force on April 6. Announced by the previous government in the Summer Budget two years ago, the measure is aimed at making the tax system fairer by, in the case of landlords, slashing the level of relief they can get on residential property finance costs — generally mortgage interest.
“This will ensure that landlords with higher incomes no longer receive the most generous tax treatment,” the government says in its policy paper. It’s not all going to happen at once, either. The new tax changes will be implemented over a period of four years. Here’s how it will break down:
· 2017-2018: deduction from property income will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction.
· 2018-2019: 50% finance costs deduction and 50% as basic rate tax reduction.
· 2019-2020: 25% finance costs deduction and 75% as basic rate tax reduction.
· 2020-2021: all financing costs incurred by landlords will be given as a basic rate tax reduction.
So, despite all this, what about all those upbeat assessments among landlords about the immediate future of the UK property sector? For now, even with all the uncertainty created by Brexit, it remains robust; there’s even some recovery in wealthy parts of London. That is likely propelling landlords to more positively prepare for the upcoming tax changes. Indeed, a report from Paragon Mortgages revealed that six out of ten landlords don’t see it as much of a burden and are still willing to buy.
Meanwhile, new research by London-based insurance firm Simply Business reveals that the overwhelming amount of landlords surveyed — a whopping 83% — won’t be put off by the new taxation structure and will instead forge ahead with their property investments. The majority of landlords, at 56%, even said they had positive feelings about the buy-to-let sector in 2017.
With the new tax changes, many landlords will undoubtedly be looking at ways of cutting costs and doing anything they can to preserve their profits or even give them a boost. One way that potentially saves not only money, but also time, is handing the job of operating their properties over to an estate agent or letting agent. People with properties in the capital, for instance, can find a landlord agent in London W6 and many other areas around the city.
But it’s advisable to look out for such things as upfront fees and avoid them. Instead, the estate agent gets paid when the landlord does. In addition, landlords stand to benefit from reductions in the amount of time spent running their properties, as a good agent will deal with all the necessary maintenance to ensure the properties are in top condition at all times.
It may look like a challenging time for those investing in the UK property sector, but for now at least, many view the road ahead as something they can build on.