HOW MANY LANDLORDS HAVE REALLY GOT TO GRIPS WITH THE LATEST REFORMS?

I recently noticed a headline ‘UK landlords failing to keep pace with PRS reforms’, which made me wonder just how many landlords are still either ignoring, or are unaware of, legislative and policy reforms throughout the UK rental market.

Whilst reflecting on this, it seems apt to reaffirm some of these changes.

Mortgage interest tax relief

Mortgage interest tax relief will continue to be phased out. Landlords are no longer able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income to arrive at their property profits. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs. For the 2019–20 tax year, landlords will only be able to deduct 25 per cent of their mortgage interest. And from April 2020, they won’t be able to deduct any.

Lettings fee ban

IT’S STILL ALL ABOUT LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Despite house price growth cooling in some areas – due in no small part to Brexit-related conditions – research from property management platform Howsy has found that there are still pockets of the UK which are enjoying notable price growth.

North Devon leads the way having reported 15% growth year-on-year, followed by Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent in Wales, both at 13%, along with Caerphilly, up 11%. Camden was said to be the best bet in London with house prices up 10% in the last year, with West Devon, Forest Heath, Rochdale and Monmouthshire all up 9%, and Trafford seeing annual growth of 8%.

TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY?

To buy or not to buy? That is the question in the midst of economic conditions which are making it tough for many potential borrowers to make life-affirming, property-related commitments.

Although first-time buyers remain the bedrock of the mortgage market – and it’s important that the younger generations remain attracted to homeownership – times are changing. A range of consumer demands need to be fully catered for and shifting social demographics to be considered throughout the lending and private rented sectors. For example, some tenants are opting to rent for longer as it fits better with their current lifestyle. Some tenants simply don’t have a choice. Flexibility can be a key factor for many, and this is even more apparent when you consider the changing face of employment throughout the UK and the effect this is having on how property is being viewed and utilised.

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM CONTINUES TO DRIVE THE BUY-TO-LET SECTOR

Three-quarters of the way through 2019, research from Paragon shows that the state of the country’s Private Rented Sector (PRS) shows little change, as landlords remain cautious but continue to optimise their property portfolios for the challenges that lie ahead.

Whilst many of the landlord sentiment indicators in Paragon’s long-running PRS Trends report are historically low – the result of successive governments imposing fiscal and regulatory changes – there is still a story of resilience.

In its latest survey for Q3 2019, the average portfolio size amongst its experienced panel of 201 landlords has grown to 13.2 properties. With this increase, so too a rise in portfolio value, now at £1.82 million, a second successive record high.

BUY-TO-LET WATCH: CERTAINTY AMID THE UNCERTAINTY

Looking from the inside out, it’s cringe-inducing to think of how the rest of the world is currently viewing the UK’s political plight. Don’t worry, this is not going to be a political or Brexit-related rant. It’s all about perception and maybe, just maybe, the rest of the world isn’t looking at the UK economy with as much disdain as we may initially think, especially when it comes to the housing and buy-to-let markets.

TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BUY-TO-LET EXPERIENCE

The buy-to-let sector is never short of news or data. In recent weeks we’ve seen a raft of lender research around the increase of limited company borrowing and rental yields across the UK – as outlined in my previous blog post.

In the modern age, we now have access to an almost unlimited supply of information on a variety of subjects from a variety of sources, but when you see an in-depth report from a specialist BTL lender then you tend to sit up and take notice.

Buy to Let: The Landlord Experience produced by The Mortgage Lender evaluates how landlords feel about the market in general, especially in light of all the major changes which have taken place in the last few years.

I won’t spoil this too much but just a couple of take-outs from this include:

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