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Government extends mortgage payment holiday to BTL

The government has announced a raft of measures to protect renters and landlords during the Covid-19 crisis, including extending the three-month mortgage payment holiday to buy to let investors and stopping evictions.

Last night (March 18), the government confirmed that landlords will also be able to apply for a three-month payment holiday on buy to let mortgages under emergency coronavirus legislation.

This move has been welcomed by landlord organisations, the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association, which said the payment holiday “will take a lot of pressure off landlords enabling them to be as flexible as possible with tenants facing difficulties with their rent payments”.

As part of the legislation housing secretary Robert Jenrick also announced that private tenants could not be evicted from their homes for at least three months if they are struggling to pay their rent.

At the end of this three-month period, the government expects landlords and tenants to work together to “establish an affordable repayment plan” which takes into account tenants’ individual circumstances.

Mr Jenrick MP said: “The government is clear – no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home, nor will any landlord face unmanageable debts.

“These are extraordinary times and renters and landlords alike are of course worried about paying their rent and mortgage. Which is why we are urgently introducing emergency legislation to protect tenants in social and private accommodation from an eviction process being started.

“These changes will protect all renters and private landlords ensuring everyone gets the support they need at this very difficult time.”

There will also be no new possession proceedings through applications to the court starting during the crisis.

During prime minister’s questions yesterday, Boris Johnson said the government was prepared to bring forward emergency legislation to protect private renters from eviction.

At the time he said: “We will be bringing forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction, that is one thing we will do but it is also important as we legislate that we do not pass on the problem so we will also be taking steps to protect other actors in the economy.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of letting agent Benham and Reeves, said: “We’re all for state support at a time of crisis however there’s a significant unintended consequence of this announcement and that is the fact tenants now have nothing to lose if they simply stop paying their rent.

“It will simply be used as a literal get out of jail free card for all of the UK’s 16m or so private and social housing tenants and this could leave a path of destruction within the rental market if not correctly implemented and monitored.

“Let’s see what the details reveal but at first glance, this perhaps goes too far unless there are specific criteria that must be met and proven before tenants stop paying and landlords claim their mortgage holiday.

“Ultimately, landlords will still have to pay as this approach is a deferral, not a let off. How will they recoup the rent if tenants are unable or simply refuse to pay it?”

The developments come after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday a £330bn war chest of loans to protect businesses against the financial difficulties caused by the coronavirus.

He also announced mortgage lenders would be forced to provide up to three months’ relief from mortgage payments to consumers who needed it.

This dwarfed the £30bn of government funds announced at the Budget last week.

Meanwhile the spreading coronavirus crisis has caused global markets to tumble as governments across the world shut their borders, locked down domestic travel and closed sports and leisure facilities.

The prime minister has urged everyone to avoid unnecessary social contact, to work from home where possible, and to stay away from pubs and restaurants.

Schools will be shut from Friday afternoon onwards and will remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.

By Amy Austin

Source: FT Adviser

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More UK women investing in buy-to-let properties

The number of women investing in buy-to-let properties in the UK has increased slightly to almost half the total, a new study has found.

Women now account for 47% of the 2.5 million buy-to-let investors in the UK up from 46% the year before, narrowing the gender gap in the investment class, according to the research by London estate agents Ludlowthompson.

The number of female residential property landlords rose by 5% to 1.2 million for the 2016/17 tax year, up from 1.1 million the previous year, according to the latest available HMRC data.

The narrowing of the gender gap in buy-to-let investment reflects how property has become an increasingly popular investment among women Ludlowthompson said.

The company cited research from Kings College London that suggests that women are generally less likely to make high-risk investments. The relatively transparent business model, regular pay-outs, and low price volatility associated with buy-to-let property as opposed to shares has contributed to the rise in popularity of the asset class among women.

The narrowing of the gender gap among buy-to-let investors stands in contrast to the gender split across other asset classes such as cryptocurrency where women represent just 8.5% of investments, and stocks and shares ISAs where women account for only 43%, owning 957,000 shares ISAs compared with 1.2 million men.

Stephen Ludlow, chairman of Ludlowthompson, said: “The buy-to-let sector has a reputation of providing stable, long-term returns. Whilst some investors have become distracted by more speculative investments, buy-to-let continues to build increasing interest amongst investors who value income and long-term growth.

“It may not be long before we see a 50/50 gender split amongst buy-to-let investors, which is significant given the much wider gaps in other asset classes, such as equities.”

By Kalila Sangster

Source: Yahoo News UK

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Best Current UK Property Investment Locations

New research claims to reveal the best current UK property investment locations for buy to let investors to enjoy the greatest returns.

The research, carried out by peer to peer lending platform Sourced Capital, shows that over the last five years, investment into the real estate, renting and business sector has increased by 48.4 per cent, one of the largest increases in the non-manufacturing industries behind just the ‘construction’ and ‘other service’ sectors in terms of performance.

Despite Brexit uncertainty hitting house price growth, coupled with changes to tax regulations and a hike in stamp duty thresholds for buy to let landlords, the UK property market has stood firm and remains one of the most consistent investment options available in today’s markets.

Nationally and Regionally

The nation offering the best current top-line yields is Scotland at 5.8 per cent, closely followed by Northern Ireland at 5.4 per cent, with England also coming in just above the UK average (4.1 per cent).

Regionally, the North East (4.9 per cent), Yorkshire and the Humber (4.5 per cent) and the North West (4.4 per cent) are home to the most favourable current rental yields.

The best buy to let spots in the UK

Scotland’s current buy to let pedigree is also clear on a local level, with 14 of the top 20 areas for current yields located north of the border. 

Glasgow ranks top at present with yields hitting 7.8 per cent on average, followed by West Dunbartonshire (7.2 per cent) and Inverclyde (7.1 per cent). 

Burnley ranks at number six and the best in England with the average rental yield currently at 6.6 per cent, followed by Belfast (6.4 per cent).

Other areas outside of Scotland to make the top 20 include Blackpool (5.9 per cent), Country Durham (5.8 per cent), Pende (5.8 per cent) and Hyndburn (5.8 per cent).

In London, Tower Hamlets is currently home to the highest yields at 4.7 per cent, followed by neighbouring Newham (4.6 per cent) and Barking and Dagenham (4.6 per cent). 

Founder and Managing Director of Sourced Capital, Stephen Moss, commented: ‘One positive that can be taken from months of stagnant house price growth brought on by Brexit uncertainty is that rental yields have seen a boost due to a fall in property values coupled with consistently high rental demand and rental prices as a result.

‘We’ve already seen a Boris inspired bounce late last year with early signs that the market has ‘bottomed out’ and is once again on the up already in 2020. As a result, we’ve also seen an early flurry of investor activity as they realise now is a great time to get a foot in the door and secure a good deal before prices do regain momentum and the returns available start to tighten.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Buy-to-let alert! The best (and worst) locations for rent changes in 2019

It’s been another tough year for buy-to-let investors in 2019.

On top of swallowing more punitive changes from HM Revenue and Customs, like an additional reduction in mortgage interest relief, landlords have also had to suffer the Tenant Fees Act of June, a new law which has seen letting agents pass some of the admin fees traditionally footed by the tenant onto the property owner instead.

On the up

One silver lining for investors, however, is that the impact of these measures, in thinning landlord numbers, has worsened the supply crunch and thus forced rents higher. Data from Howsy shows that the average rent in England has risen 0.9% in the last 12 months, with rents rising most significantly in Yorkshire and the Humber (up 5.1%).

In 2019 average rents increased in eight out of nine major English regions, the property lettings platform says, with rental costs dropping only in the North East (down 1.1%).

Annual Rent Increase by Region

LocationChange in rent (2018–2019)
Yorkshire and the Humber5.10%
West Midlands3.00%
North West2.60%
South West2.50%
East Midlands1.90%
South East1.40%
East of England1.20%
London1.10%
North East-1.10%
England0.90%

Too much cost!

And some of the rent rises on a more local level have been quite blistering. In Exeter these have exploded by 28.7% on an average basis from 2018 levels, putting the Devon town at the top of the tree. Another nine locations saw rents rise by double-digit percentages.

It’s critical to stress, however, that conditions haven’t been sunny for all of England’s landlords. In the Northamptonshire town of Corby, for example, buy-to-let investors have seen the average rent plummet 10.5% over the past year, while those in Elmbridge in Surrey have also seen rents drop by more than 10%.

Even if you let out a property in one of those locations where rents are soaring skywards, I still don’t consider buy-to-let to be an attractive destination for your hard-earned cash. On a national basis, it’s quite possible that the 0.9% average rent rise in 2019 wasn’t enough to cover the increased tax, administrative, and running costs that many landlords have faced. And things threaten to get even tougher in 2020 as a raft of new changes come into force.

A better way to play property

In my opinion, a much better way to get rich from the UK property market is through share investing. Of course investors need to be careful – those investing in firms with high exposure to the physical retail sector are dicing with danger right now – though there’s a multitude of other ways to get rich from bricks and mortar.

One great way to get rich over the next decade, I believe, is to get some exposure to e-commerce. Even though broader retail conditions remain difficult right now, the amount of business being conducted by online sellers continues to thrive. Royal Mail said in its latest trading statement that parcel volumes were up a chunky 5% in the six months to September.

And so I think a good idea is to buy into firms that own logistics and distribution hubs that are integral to the business of internet retailing, like Tritax Big Box REIT and Urban Logistics REIT. The latter looks particularly attractive, too, as not only do City analysts expect earnings to swell by double-digit percentages over the next couple of years at least but current dividend projections leave it with mighty yields above 5% over the medium term. So forget about buy to let and put your hard-earned cash to work here instead, I say.

By Royston Wild

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Rent Price Rises Hit Record High For Buy To Let Investors

The number of buy to let property investors introducing rent price rises to their tenants hit a new record high in June.

More than half of letting and management agents (55 per cent) witnessing landlords making rent price rises. This is a 22 per cent increase from May which was a previous record high.

The latest ARLA Propertymark June Private Rented Sector (PRS) Report also showed that year-on-year the number of tenants experiencing rent price increases is up from 31 per cent in June 2017, and 35 per cent in June 2018.

The record level of rent price increases is thought to be mainly because of the introduction of the tenant fees ban forcing landlords to recover costs through higher rents.

Letting agents had an average of 199 properties under management per member branch in June, a decrease from 201 in May.

However, demand from prospective tenants increased marginally in June, with the number of house hunters registered per branch rising to 70 on average, compared to 69 in May.

Despite fears of a mass exodus by landlords in the private rental sector, the number of buy to let investors exiting the market remained at four per branch, the same figure seen in June 2018.

ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive, David Cox, commented: Unsurprisingly, rent costs hit a record high in June as tenants suffered the impact of the tenant fee ban. Ever since the Government proposed the ban, we warned that tenants would continue to pay the same amount, but the cost would be passed onto tenants through increased rents, rather than upfront costs.’

He continued: ‘In addition to the repercussions of the Tenant Fees Act, the proposed abolition of Section 21, coupled with the Mayor of London’s recent call for rent controls, will only cause the sector to shrink further. In turn this will increase pressure on the sector because it will discourage new landlords from investing in the market, causing rents to rise for tenants as less rental accommodation is available.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Landlords holding back from further purchases over next 12 months

Fewer than a third of landlords would add to their buy-to-let portfolio over the next 12 months, research claims.

A survey of 5,000 landlords by letting agent Benham and Reeves, assessed sentiment in the property sector amid tax and regulatory changes.

The majority (83%) said they were unlikely to sell up this year, but just 28% said they would consider investing in a property in the next 12 months.

Half said they would consider expanding their portfolio within the next five years.

Two thirds of landlords said the proposed changes to Section 21 notices made them more cautious about investing in a further property, while opinion was divided over changes to mortgage interest relief  and whether the sector still provided a good investment as a result, with 49% believing it is and 51% no longer sure.

Despite this uncertainty, 73% considered property is still the best and least volatile long-term investment when compared to all other asset classes.

More than a third (37%) felt very confident that they will see an adequate return on their portfolio over the next ten years, with a further six per cent stating they were extremely confident and 51% not as confident.

Marc von Grundherr, director of London-based Benham and Reeves, said: “The Government has really gone to war with buy-to-let investors of late and a consistent string of detrimental changes to the sector through Stamp Duty increases, tax relief changes and a ban on tenant fees has had the desired impact of denting industry sentiment and dampening appetite for future investment due to a reduction in profitability

“However, for the institutional buy-to-let investor, this is but a mere blip on a much longer timeline, and the overwhelming overtones are that while Brexit poses a challenging obstacle for the immediate future, the market remains the investment option of choice with many confident on a return further down the line.

“This is a testament to the durability of buy-to-let bricks and mortar in the UK as, despite a Government-backed clampdown, it remains a lucrative business and one that continues to gain the backing of those that are on the frontline.”

By MARC SHOFFMAN

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Property still considered the best investment

Some 73% of buy-to-let investors consider property as still the best , least volatile long-term investment when compared to all other asset classes, letting and estate agent, Benham and Reeves has found.

In the wake of a number of government changes to the sector, 66% believe that the government would fail to implement any initiatives aimed to boost overseas investment in order to drive consumer demand.

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “The government has really gone to war with buy-to-let investors of late and a consistent string of detrimental changes to the sector through stamp duty increases, tax relief changes and a ban on tenant fees has had the desired impact of denting industry sentiment and dampening appetite for future investment due to a reduction in profitability.

“However, for the institutional buy-to-let investor, this is but a mere blip on a much longer timeline and the overwhelming overtones are that while Brexit poses a challenging obstacle for the immediate future, the market remains the investment option of choice with many confident on a return further down the line.

“This is a testament to the durability of buy-to-let bricks and mortar in the UK as, despite a government-backed clamp down, it remains a lucrative business and one that continues to gain the backing of those that are on the frontline.”

With Brexit continuing to dominate the headlines with no end in sight, it’s no surprise that 72% of investors have had their outlook on the property market altered since the vote, with 68% now less confident in the market itself.

With more changes to property and investment laws on the horizon, 80% of those asked could be forgiven with being unfamiliar with the latest changes to the buy-to-let market.

Although it has only just been implemented, the recent changes to Section 21 notices have also had an impact, with 66% of investors now more cautious about investing.

However, opinion is divided over changes to buy-to-let tax relief and whether the sector still provided a good investment as a result, with 49% believing it is and 51% no longer sure.

The current financial landscape has provided some assurance, with 60% confident that rates will remain low over the next five years and while 66% aren’t as confident in an adequate return over this time period, 22% remain very confident, with just 10% not at all confident.

However, with buy-to-let always requiring a long-term investment outlook, this increased to 37% of investors feeling very confident that they will see an adequate return over the next 10 years, with a further 6% stating they were extremely confident and 51% not as confident.

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Buy-to-let revealed! The most in-demand cities for renters today

It was once the destination of choice for buy-to-let investors, but London has fallen way out of favour with both would-be and existing landlords over the past year.

The electrifying property price growth of recent decades may have required some truly staggering wads of cash for people to build their property portfolios. However, the rate at which rents were also booming in the capital meant for many this was a price worth paying.

How things have changed since then. London is no longer considered hallowed ground by buy-to-let participants. Added to the problem of stagnating or even falling property prices in some boroughs, changes to stamp duty on second homes have also resulted in eye-watering payouts to the taxman compared with those of previous years.

Bristol’s best
There’s a treasure trove of evidence showing returns in other British cities now exceed those you can expect from investment in the capital. And new research from Bunk gives fresh ammunition for landlords to give London short shrift and buy elsewhere.

According to the lettings platform, which sought to discover the country’s most in-demand city based on which have the highest number of properties already let as a percentage of total listings, Bristol came top of the pile with a score of 50%. Newport and Nottingham followed in second and third place, respectively.

Top 10 Cities By Demand

Location / Rental demand

  • Bristol 50%
  • Newport 39%
  • Nottingham 36%
  • Plymouth 34%
  • Cambridge 34%
  • Portsmouth 32%
  • Bournemouth 30%
  • Oxford 29%
  • Manchester 26%
  • Glasgow 25%

Commenting on the data, Bunk co-founder Tom Woollard said: “We’re starting to see a real change in the rental market with a number of the more alternative cities coming to the forefront in terms of popularity,” with renters seeking out great places to live without the huge rents that come with so-called traditional cities.

London found itself languishing in the bottom 10 of Bunk’s report with a score of just 21%.

Bottom 10 Cities By Demand

Location / Rental demand

  • Aberdeen 8%
  • Newcastle 14%
  • Edinburgh 14%
  • Leeds 16%
  • Swansea 16%
  • Liverpool 18%
  • Cardiff 21%
  • Belfast 21%
  • London 21%
  • Sheffield 22%

Sticking with stocks

I have to confess, though, that this latest set of data isn’t enough to encourage me to get involved in the Bristol buy-to-let scene. No thanks. Given the mix of rising costs and increasing paperwork, not to mention the vast amounts of initial cash needed to buy property in the UK, I’d rather stick with stock investing.

And what a time to be an investor in equity markets right now. Dividends from the world bourses are hitting record high after record high. While signs of a slowdown in the global economy are predicted to dent many a company’s earnings in 2019, any such slowdown are unlikely to harm payout growth in the immediate future.

Take a look at the FTSE 100, for instance. The average forward dividend yield for the index sits at a chunky 4.3%, though this is not the only reason to grab a slice of some of Britain’s blue-chips. As I type, some of the index’s big hitters are trading on irresistibly-cheap valuations, something which is illustrated by the Footsie’s low forward P/E ratio of around 13 times.

My tip? Take advantage of the recent reversal in FTSE 100 share prices and go grab a big-dividend-paying bargain, or two.

By Royston Wild

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Bittersweet profits for buy-to-let landlords

Buy-to-let investors in the UK have suffered a dismal few years. The government’s determination to make the sector less appealing to investors seems to have worked.

As we pointed out in last week’s issue, the number of landlords in the UK has fallen by 120,000 in the past three years, according to figures from estate agent Hamptons International. Nevertheless, these landlords are leaving the sector with fairly significant profits. The average landlord in England and Wales sold their buy-to-let property in 2018 for £79,770 more than they paid for it (before tax), having owned it for nearly ten years on average.

Last year, 85% of landlords sold their property for more than they paid for it, with 15% making a loss. As you might expect, those selling property in London made a profit almost three times the national average, selling for a £248,120 profit. However, landlords made more money in 2017, selling for a £83,430 profit, with London landlords making £272,120. It’s also important to take into account the potential opportunity cost of leaving the sector.

Until a few years ago, buy-to-let was a fairly reliable source of income and capital growth for many. The government was concerned that landlords were pushing up prices beyond the reach of first-time buyers. While its clampdown has cooled the buy-to-let frenzy, it’s a shame that the Help to Buy programme is having the same effect.

By: Sarah Moore

Source: Money Week

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Buy To Let Investors Contribute £16.1 Billion To Economy

Buy to let investors in the private rental property sector contribute a huge £16.1 billion to the UK economy.

Through their spending over the year, landlords in the UK contribute towards thousands of jobs from builders and tradesmen through to accountants and letting agents. This figure has nearly doubled from £8.5 billion a decade ago, following the long-term expansion of the rented sector and rising costs per property.

Property maintenance and servicing represents the largest running cost for landlords across the private rental sector (PRS), totalling £5.8 billion. The next largest outlay is for those landlords that use a letting or management agent and contribute a collective £5 billion.

Investors spend a total of £567 million on accountancy and legal fees, £341 million on administration and registration costs, contributing an additional £908 million of spending solely dependent on the PRS’ existence.

Landlords also contribute £2.3 billion on service charges and ground rents, £848 million on utilities, £791 million on insurance, and £618 million on other associated costs of running a property.

The average landlord now spends £3,571 per property in annual running costs, before tax or mortgage interest – equivalent to 32.9 per cent of rental income. These costs have risen by 5.6 per cent in the last two years without factoring in increasing taxes. Since the start of 2009, costs have jumped by 28 per cent, a rise of £771.

£1,086 is currently spent on maintenance, repairs and servicing, and £935 spent on letting agent fees per property. A typical landlord spends £426 per property each year in ground rents and service charges. Insurance typically costs £149, and legal and accountancy fees £107, while administrative and license fees add another £64 per year.

A further £528 is lost in void periods each year, a figure that has climbed in recent years as a result of higher rents, and a slightly longer gaps between tenancies.

Faced by rising costs, and higher tax bills following the recent changes to mortgage interest tax relief, landlords are now looking to cut the amount they contribute.

36 per cent of landlords, surveyed by BVA BDRC on behalf of Kent Reliance, are already reducing or planning to reduce their spending. Overall, a typical landlord reviewing their outlay would cut spending per property by around 6 per cent. If replicated across the PRS, this would reduce their total spending by nearly £1 billion each year, reducing the revenues of the industries that depend on the PRS.

Sales Director of OneSavings Bank, Adrian Moloney, commented: ‘The political discourse around the private rented sector has been one-sided to say the least. Overlooked is the significant economic contribution landlords make, supporting thousands of jobs through their spending and housing a large portion of the country’s workforce. Instead, landlords have faced punitive tax and regulatory changes, at a time when running costs are climbing.’

Source: Residential Landlord