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BTL landlords should prepare to take advantage of Green Homes grants

Buy to Let landlords in England should be assessing the energy efficiency works that their properties require in advance of the opening of online applications for the Green Homes Grant in September, say tax and advisory firm, Blick Rothenberg.

Heather Powell, Property partner at the firm said:

“The applications for the grant will open in just over a months’ time so Buy to Let landlords need to assess their properties now and get their applications in as fast as possible because thousands of people will apply.

“It is also likely that the Government will tighten energy efficiency regulations still further in 2021, making these works essential for many rental properties.”

“The grant scheme will fund £2 of every £3 spent by a landlord, up to a maximum of £5,000, to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

“Works can include wall and loft insulation, draught proofing and double glazing, all works that should improve the Energy Performance Rating (“EPC”) of a property.

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“Landlords cannot let properties with an energy performance rating of F or G (unless they qualify for an exemption) so they should be planning to undertake works that can be done with the grant funding that is being made available. Their tenants will also benefit as they will get a reduction in their annual fuel bills.”

“The 27 million homes in the UK, which generate up to 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand in the UK, are some of the least heat efficient homes in Europe.

“The Government hopes the grants will improve these statistics and help the UK to meet the commitment to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Online applications by landlords will be passed to “registered local tradesmen” to do the necessary works – which the Chancellor expects to help generate a further 100,000 jobs in the “Green Sector.”

“There are c2.2m landlords in England, with an average of 1.8 properties each – a total of 3.96m buy to let properties.

“If landlords applied for grants to improve the energy efficiency of just 25% of their properties, and got an average grant of £3,300 for insulation, the Green Homes Grant funding would be £3.27bn, and 990,000 homes would have been improved.

“The Chancellor announced £2bn to fund grants in 2020/21, and stated he hopes 600,000 homes to be improved, but he made it clear that his funding was based on estimates of take up of the funding, and indicated it is not capped, which is good news for BTL landlords.”

“The full details of the Green Homes Grants has not been published, but given the Grant funding announced was only for one year it is important that Landlords start reviewing their housing, assessing what work should be done that is eligible for the grant, so that that they can apply for the funding.

“This is one of the few measures announced by the Government in the last three months that assists landlords, and they should make sure that they take advantage of the funding, and at the same time help the UK achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Most attractive cities for BTL landlords revealed

London and Manchester has been named by landlords as the most attractive cities to invest in buy-to-let (BTL) properties in 2020 according to Simply Business.

The research shows that the two cities were where landlords expect the BTL market to be most robust this year, with both receiving over a third of votes when asked which city represents the best investment opportunity.

Liverpool and Birmingham followed closely behind as BTL hotspots, with both cities securing 10% of the vote amongst landlords when considering where their next investment in 2020 lies.

Bea Montoya, chief operating officer at Simply Business, said: “Buy-to-let landlords are crucial to the UK economy, contributing a combined £16.1bn through pre-tax spending.

“The sector also now houses 20% of British households and has a huge presence up and down the country, so it’s wholly encouraging that landlords view a broad spread of regions as attractive areas to invest this year.

“London usually comes out on top for being the most expensive city to invest in property in the UK, but falling house prices are making it an attractive place to invest once again.

“We know a quarter of landlords are planning to sell at least one property this year, largely due to government reform and tax changes, so it’s reassuring to see that landlords are still eyeing up investment opportunities up and down the country.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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First Time BTL choice up and rates down

Competition within the first-time landlord buy-to-let mortgage market has increased significantly over the last five years seeing a rise in the number of products available and a reduction in rates, research from Moneyfacts.co.uk reveals.

Over the last five years, the number of products available for first-time landlords has increased from 645 in 2014 to 1,405 today. As well as this, rates for both two-year and five-year fixed mortgages have also fallen, with the average two-year fixed rate decreasing from 4.01% in 2014 to 2.97% today and the average five-year fixed rate falling from 4.68% to 3.52% during the same period.

Buy-to-let market analysis – First-time landlord products

Jul 2014 Jul 2017 Jul 2018 Jul 2019
Average two-year fixed rate 4.01% 2.85% 2.83% 2.97%
Average five-year fixed rate 4.68% 3.63% 3.94% 3.52%
Number of overall products 645 1,034 1,268 1,405

Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said: “Fixed rates for first-time landlords start below 1.50% on a two-year fixed deal, but the associated upfront product fees must be considered carefully. Borrowers must ensure they weigh-up the true cost of any deal before they commit; for example, choosing the lowest two-year rate in the market from Barclays Mortgage at 1.46% would cost £20,901 in repayments after the first two years, which includes its £1,795 product fee*. However, if they opted for a deal with a lower fee, such as the mortgage from Post Office Money® priced at 1.48% with a £1,495 product fee, they would have saved £255, as the repayment would be £20,646 over two years.

“First-time landlords concerned about potential rate rises may instead consider a five-year fixed deal, and thankfully rates have fallen in this sector since 2014. In fact, the average five-year fixed rate for first-time landlords has fallen by 1.16% since July 2014, down from 4.68% to 3.52% today.

“As the market is awash with economic uncertainties and regulatory adjustments, consumers would do well to first seek independent financial advice if they are considering a buy-to-let investment, not just to find the best product, but to also review these impacting influences.”

*Based on £200,000 repayment mortgage over a 25-year term.

Source: Property118

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Buy-to-let regulation blamed as landlord arrears increase

Buy-to-let mortgage arrears increased in the first quarter of 2019, prompting concerns that disgruntled tenants are stopping paying rent as a result of landlords giving them notice and exiting the sector.

The latest arrears and repossession data from UK Finance showed that while repossessions in the buy-to-let sector were down, there were 4,620 landlord mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the first three months of 2019 – up 3% annually.

Within the total there were 1,200 buy-to-let mortgages with arrears representing 10% or more of the outstanding balance, up 12% on the previous year.

UK Finance has claimed this is not an increasing trend, but Mike Pilling, managing director of Spicerhaart Corporate Sales, warns that it could be a consequence of landlords leaving the buy-to-let sector amid tax and regulatory clampdowns.

He said: “As a result of recent regulatory changes, there are many private landlords looking to get out of the sector, and this rise could be down to the fact that some tenants who have been given notice are now not making their rent payments.”

The figures also show the level of home owner mortgage arrears fell 4%, but 1,380 properties were taken into possession in the first quarter of 2019, 10% higher than in the same quarter of the previous year.

UK Finance said this was due to a backlog of cases and is still well below the levels seen between 2009 and 2014.

By MARC SHOFFMAN

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Over half of UK landlords feel optimistic about current Buy to Let environment

Recent research from Your Move, one of the UK’s largest estate and letting agency networks, reveals that attitudes towards being a landlord in the current economic and political climate remain optimistic. Your Move’s Landlord Sentiment Survey 2018 found that over half of landlords (52%) feel positive about the market, whilst only 16% felt negative. An additional 30% felt indifferent about being a landlord in the current economic and political climate.

This highlights that landlords remain largely confident in their outlook, despite the influx of regulatory changes over the past few years and changes to the wear and tear allowance, additional Stamp Duty surcharges on second properties, and stricter portfolio lending introduced last year.

Your Move’s Landlord Sentiment Survey – which gathered opinion from nearly 1,100 landlords in June further reveals that the two most important considerations to landlords are ongoing maintenance and upkeep costs (83%) and the potential to make long-term profit (80%). In comparison, the least important factors are the tenant fee ban (43%) and the potential impact of Brexit (32%).

Despite these concerns, Your Move’s research reveals that most landlords are deciding to hold out and think about the long-term when it comes to their investment – nearly two thirds of landlords (64%) surveyed revealed they are unlikely to sell a property in the next year.

 Martyn Alderton, National Lettings Director at Your Move and Reeds Rains, says:

“Given the number of regulatory and tax changes in the Buy to Let market over the last few years, it wouldn’t be surprising if landlords felt some trepidation about the future. However, it’s 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’s 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.”

Source: London Loves Business