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Buy To Let Property Investors Enjoying The Cambridge Effect

The residential property market in Cambridgeshire is performing well, impacted by the ‘global brand’ of Cambridge and the diversity of its market trends.

Research by property consultants Bidwells has found that Cambridge and the surrounding county has seen its residential property market rise three times quicker than the UK national average.

In the next 20 years, population growth in the Cambridge area is expected to be 24.5 per cent, placing pressures on demand on the city. Additional factors contributing to the success of the rental market are Brexit, high performing schools, improved transport links and the significant increase in housing throughout Cambridgeshire.

Rental costs have increased by approximately 3 per cent in the last 12 months with an average rent of just over £1250pcm in Cambridge. The strength of migration into Cambridge provides one of the key drivers of the residential lettings market.

One of the main reasons of this influx is due to the expansion of the Biomedical Campus where the total jobs on site at present are circa 12,300 with 7,500 to be created for the coming year, providing a total of 19,800 employees eventually on site.

It is not only the current influx of AstraZeneca employees that is significant but also other large companies and institutions such as Cambridge University, ARM and Addenbrookes Hospital, that have under-pinned the lettings market for many years now and will continue to do so in future. More recently companies such as Amazon, Microsoft Research and Apple to name a few, have joined the expanding technological highway of silicone fen.

Brexit, and the general uncertainty towards house values has meant that many people are opting to rent, boosting demand in the private rental sector.

Secondly, the number of high performing schools and colleges with a world leading university continues to attract many people wishing to live and work in Cambridge. Vitally, 64 per cent of residents in the area said that living within walking distance to a school was very important to them.

The confirmation of a Cambridge South Train Station opening next year highlights that Cambridge is an ideal location for London commuters too.

Source: Residential Landlord

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Top spots for buy to let named

Scotland has been crowned the best place for landlords to invest as research has shown the average yield for Scottish buy-to-let properties scoops the rest of the UK.

The findings from lettings platform Howsy, published today (October 2), showed Glasgow City was the overall best place to invest in buy-to-let property with a current rental yield of 7.5 per cent.

Midlothian and East Ayrshire, both in Scotland, were close behind with rental yields of 6.8 per cent, while Scottish county West Dunbartonshire was fourth at 6.7 per cent.

“After years of being slammed by regulatory changes making it harder to turn a profit, choosing where to invest has never been more important for landlords.”
Chris Sykes, broker at Private Finance
The research showed Burnley and Belfast were offering yields of 6.5 per cent, while Inverclyde offered 6.4 per cent, followed by Falkirk (6.3 per cent), the Western Isles (6.2 per cent) and Clackmannanshire (6.1 per cent) to complete the top 10.

Wales fared worst among the home countries with an average yield of 3.7 per cent compared with Scotland’s 5.7 per cent.

Landlords in England and Northern Ireland receive average yields of 4.1 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively.

Chris Sykes, broker at Private Finance, said: “After years of being slammed by regulatory changes making it harder to turn a profit, choosing where to invest has never been more important for landlords.

“Generally speaking, properties further north tend to require a smaller initial investment. Glasgow, which tops Howsy’s list, has an average house price of just £135,121.

“Being a major city and university town, the area also benefits from strong rental demand so this combination of low property prices and decent regular rental income is a winning formula for investors.”

The buy-to-let market grew rapidly after the financial crisis but has since taken a beating as a number of tax and regulatory changes have hit landlords’ pockets.

How the rules changed:
An additional 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge, introduced in April 2016, was closely followed by the abolition of mortgage interest tax relief for landlords.

Landlords then took a further hit when a shake up of rules by the Prudential Regulation Authority meant buy-to-let borrowers were now subject to more stringent affordability testing.

The changes to mortgage relief have been phased into the system since April 2017, but by April 2020 landlords will be unable to deduct any of their mortgage expenses from taxable rental income.

Instead, they will receive a tax-credit based on 20 per cent (the current basic tax rate) of their mortgage interest payments.

Following the changes, landlords who were higher or additional-rate taxpayers would now only get refunds at the 20 per cent rate, rather than top rate of paid tax.

On top of this, landlords could also be forced into a higher tax bracket because they would need to declare the income that was used to pay the mortgage on their tax return.

Mr Sykes said mortgage repayments often represented a large chunk of landlords’ costs, so getting as low a rate as possible was important to achieve a profitable rental yield.

He said lenders were currently offering very competitive buy-to-let product rates, both as a result of the wider low-rate environment and in a bid to attract more business given the slowdown the sector has experienced in recent years so now was the right time for landlords to remortgage onto a “rock-bottom rate” to maximise their overall profits.

Founder and chief executive of Howsy, Calum Brannan, said technology had helped landlords connect with their tenants more easily which meant they were no longer restricted to investing within the local vicinity to keep tabs on their property or forced to pay large fees for an agent to do so.

He said: “This leaves them free to buy in one section of the market and invest in another to maximise their financial gain across the board.

“More accessibility via digital rental platforms now provides landlords with greater empowerment when managing their property portfolio and they can do so anytime, day or night, with greater peace of mind.”

The research also showed which locations offered the highest annual house price growth for those looking to buy.

North Devon topped the list with expected growth of 15 per cent, while Welsh locations Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent came in second and third place.

England had the lowest annual house price growth of the home countries at 0.3 per cent, while Wales stormed ahead with 4.2 per cent.

Location:Annual House Price Growth:
North Devon15%
Merthyr Tydfil13%
Blaenau Gwent13%
Caerphilly11%
Camden10%
West Devon9%
Forest Heath9%
Rochdale9%
Monmouthshire9%
Trafford8%
Home countries: 
England0.3%
Wales4.2%
Scotland1.4%
Northern Ireland1.6%
United Kingdom0.7%

By Imogen Tew

Source: FT Adviser

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Only 37% of BTL products available directly from lenders

Research from Paragon Bank shows that 57% of landlords are most likely to source their next buy-to-let mortgage from their existing broker, while 41% state they would be most likely to go direct to a lender for a buy-to-let mortgage. According to Moneyfacts.co.uk, currently 37% of buy-to-let mortgage products are available directly.

The research from Paragon Bank also revealed that there is little variance in the attitude towards retaining their current mortgage broker between portfolio and non-portfolio landlords, with 59% and 50% respectively saying they are most likely to remain with their current broker. (A portfolio landlord has four or more properties).

Landlords pausing on increasing their portfolios

Only 8% of landlords expect to purchase property in the next quarter, almost reaching the historic low of 6% in quarter four 2018. While those selling properties decreased by only one percentage point from 23% to 22%. In quarter three in 2014, the gap between landlords expecting to sell and those expecting to buy was equal, whereas the current gap now sits at 15%.

An area where portfolio and non-portfolio landlords differ is on the expectation of purchasing a property in the next quarter. Only 1% of non-portfolio landlords expect to purchase, while 10% of portfolio landlords expect to buy.

John Heron, director of mortgages at Paragon, said: “With so much change in the private rented sector (PRS) in recent years, landlords have had to adapt quickly to higher taxation, which has impacted returns on their portfolios. Throughout that time, landlords will have relied more heavily than ever on intermediaries to help them get the very best deals available. Therefore, it is no surprise that, while the future remains unpredictable, landlords are maintaining some stability by reusing the same brokers for their next mortgage.

“It’s surprising, however, to hear that some landlords are considering approaching a lender directly for their next mortgage. This does not match well with the actual behaviour of landlords, particularly in the portfolio segment where nine out of 10 landlords use an intermediary.”

Paragon Bank’s PRS Trends Report for quarter three 2019 was conducted with over 200 buy-to-let landlords, of which the large majority have been renting for over 10 years and are classed as professional landlords with three or more properties.

Source: Property118

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Buy-to-let costs continue to fall

Mortgage costs in the buy-to-let market have been falling since the second quarter of 2019 and the number of products available has risen by 11% in one year.

According to Mortgage Brain’s quarterly product data analysis, the cost of a 60% LTV two-year fixed buy-to-let mortgage is now 1.9% lower than it was three months ago, which represents an annual saving of £144 on a £150k mortgage.

The cost of a 70% LTV three-year fixed buy-to-let mortgage has fallen by 1.1% – an annual saving of £90 on a £150k mortgage compared to three months ago.

The Mortgage Brain data also shows that borrowers looking to fix for longer can benefit from better annualised savings. For example, a 80% LTV five-year fixed buy-to-let mortgage is now 3.5% lower compared to 12 months ago, representing an annual saving of £324.

Competitive market

One factor driving down the costs of BTL mortgages is the number of products now available on the market. The Mortgage Brain analysis revealed that there are now 3,859 BTL products on the market from mainstream lenders, which represents an increase of 11% compared to a year ago.

Buy-to-let v residential

The Mortgage Brain analysis also reveals that the cost of buy-to-let mortgages remains higher when compared to mainstream residential mortgage products. Data on (1 September 2019 shows that the cost of a 80% LTV five-year fixed product is over 16% higher than the same product for a residential mortgage.

The difference in the cost of tracker mortgages are less, with the cost of a two-year 70% LTV tracker buy-to-let being 4.75% higher than the residential equivalent.

Mark Lofthouse, CEO of Mortgage Brain, commented: “Overall the message for the BTL market is positive; especially for investors looking to fix for a longer term. The cost of BTL mortgages continue to reach historic lows, with the market remaining competitive given the number of BTL mortgages currently on the market.”

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Average Buy to Let makes a return of just £2k a year pre-tax

The true cost of a being a landlord: Letting platform Howsy has revealed how the profitability of the buy-to-let sector is being squeezed due to the hidden costs of being a landlord, coupled with the financial penalties handed down from the Government via changes to stamp duty tax.

In recent times, the buy-to-let market has been considered a good investment for those with the financial means to operate within it, leading to a number of Government changes to dent this profitability through initiatives such as an increase in stamp duty tax.

Despite this, landlords are still considered to be ‘raking it in’, but Howsy has found that the average landlord is left with just £2,000 from an annual return of £13,000 once the hidden costs of being a landlord are paid for.

However, with the introduction section 24 mortgage interest relief restrictions and depending on the landlord’s tax status it is easily possible for this to be taxed into a loss!

The research shows that the initial start-up costs of Stamp Duty Tax (£6,663) and agency fees to find a tenant (£811) cost the average landlord £7,475 and that’s before the ongoing costs are considered.

According to a recent survey, the average landlord experiences 23.75 days of void periods a year during a tenancy, that’s an average of £535 a year.

What’s more, 73% of landlords buy with a mortgage and each and every year will see £6,921 paid out in interest as a result. Couple these costs with an additional £1,622 in agency management fees, an average annual maintenance and repair bill of £2,077 and you’re talking £11,147 per year.

In a worst-case scenario, UK landlords may also find themselves forced to stump up for additional unforeseen costs, such as the legal process to evict a tenant. While this doesn’t happen to everyone, there is a one in 500 chance that you will have to pay for bailiffs to evict a tenant from your property.  

What’s left?

Based on an average annual rental income of £8,112 divided by the average B2L property cost of £183,278, the average yield available is 4.4% – that’s an annual sum of £8,119.

Over the last decade, the capital appreciation of bricks and mortar has also averaged an increase of 2.85% a year, £5,223 in monetary terms. That means B2L landlords are seeing a return of £13,343 on their investment.

However, leaving start-up costs and unforeseen events out of the equation, once the average UK landlord has paid the ongoing costs associated with a buy-to-let property each year, they’re left with a profit of just £2,140.

Cost HeadingsCost Amount (£)
One-Offs Costs:£7,474.54
Ongoing Costs:£11,147
Average Annual B2L Return:£13,287
Average Annual B2L Return – Ongoing Costs£2,140

Costs Explained…

Cost HeadingsCost Amount (£)Notes/Sources
One-Offs Costs:
SDLT£1,165.00Initial stamp duty owed – Gov.uk
SDLT second home penalty£5,498.34Additional 3% – Gov.uk
Agency fees (tenant find)£811.20The minimum tenant find fee according to Which?
Total£7,474.54
Ongoing Costs:
Void periods£52723.75 days a year on average according to GoodLord
Mortgage Interest£6,920.7373% of B2L landlords have a mortgage according to Which?
Agency fees (management)£1,622.40The average annual management fee according to Which?
Maintenance & Repairs£2,077.00Average cost according to Pennington
Total£11,147
Positives:
Basis:
Avg annual rent£8,112Monthly average rent of £676 multiplied by 12
Avg B2L mortgage amount£132,075According to UK Finance
Avg house price£183,278Average B2L price according to Money Supermarket
Avg LTV72.06%
Avg equity£51,203
Return:
Annual Yield %4.4%Average annual rent divided by average B2L house price
Annual Yield ££8,064Average B2L house price multiplied by 4.4%
Capital appreciation per annum %2.9%Based on average property price change per annum over the last decade
Capital appreciation per annum ££5,223Source: ONS
Average Annual Return£13,287
Ongoing Costs£11,147
Final Annual Return£2,140

Source: Property118

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Further rule changes would damage BTL market

Regulation in the mortgage market is helpful but any more interference may create problems for brokers and their clients, delegates at the FTAdviser Financial Advice Forum in London were told.

In a panel session entitled “Buy-to-let: how professional landlords can overcome tax and legislative hurdles”, Andrew Montlake, director of Coreco, and Martin Stewart, director of London Money, said the current regulatory environment was generally positive for clients.

Mr Stewart said: “Regulation is nothing for people to be afraid of. A good broker with a good moral compass will always do a decent job for their clients. I don’t mind regulation per se.”

Mr Montlake agreed, saying: “Regulation has created an environment where good brokers can demonstrate their professionalism. This shows the public you are responsible and generally I think we are in a good position.”

But he cautioned: “I don’t want more regulation for the sake of it. If it does get rid of the amateur landlords, the charlatans, the so-called ‘dinner party property investors’, then I am all for regulation that helps make buy-to-let a more professional market.

“What I fear is there may be more changes ahead, that makes things more complicated and doesn’t really focus on what the client really wants and needs.”

Both men agreed there had been a change in the mortgage market, largely driven by government tinkering with stamp duty and tighter controls to weed out bad landlords.

This was visible in a slowdown in new buy-to-let enquiries for London Money and some delegates in the room.

Mr Stewart said he was pleased to see more “amateurs” leave the market and free up housing for first-time buyers but he felt regulation could do more to raise standards further.

However, while there has not so far been a glut of housing dumped back on the market by disgruntled buy-to-let investors, a “perfect storm” could be caused due to Brexit uncertainty, new governments and unknown elements that might see more of an exodus in 2021.

Most buy-to-let lenders are regulated by the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

In 2017, among other regulatory changes that endeavoured to take some of the heat out of the buy-to-let market, the PRA implemented rules on how much can be lent to potential buy-to-let investors, based on how much rent was being charged.

The rule is that when making a loan, the rent must cover at least 145 per cent of the mortgage payment when the interest rate is at least 5.5 per cent.

This followed the government’s reform of the rules governing BTL, which included a 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge for second homes and cuts to landlord tax relief.

As some delegates in the room commented, higher taxes and a lack of upward movement on rents – especially in London – have meant some landlords with smaller portfolios are not making enough of a profit to continue as a buy-to-let investor.

When asked what their clients are doing, some said their clients were selling, going outside of London, creating limited partnerships or getting their residential property exposure through property funds.

“We are certainly having to be much more holistic now as brokers”, said Mr Montlake. “Professionals can really add value to clients.”

By Simoney Kyriakou

Source: FT Adviser

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Fixed rate buy-to-let mortgage rates continue to fall

The biggest fall in monthly costs was for five year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgage offers for 50 per cent of the value of a property, the data from Property Master’s August report shows.

The report, which tracks the cost of mortgages from 18 of the largest buy to let lenders, found that the monthly cost of this type of mortgage fell by £13 per month July to August and five year fixed rates for 65 per cent of the value of a property fell month on month by £5.

However, five year fixed rates buy-to-let mortgage at 75 per cent of the value of a property was one of only two types tracked to show an increase, up £29 per month.

The report says that this may reflect the attractiveness of five year fixed rate products to landlords struggling to meet new affordability regulations.

The cost of two year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgages for 65 per cent of the value of a property fell by £2 per month and for 75 per cent of the value of a property by just £1.

Two year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgages for 50 per cent of the value of a property increased by £4 per month.

Angus Stewart, Property Master’s chief executive, said: “There have been a slew of rate cuts amongst lenders along with new offers being launched that are looking very attractive to landlords wanting to expand their portfolios or needing to remortgage.

“Good news on rates may well entice some landlords back into the market by helping them offset the many recent regulatory and tax costs they have been struggling to absorb.”

Source: Simple Landlords Insurance

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Half of current landlords would not go near buy-to-let now

Half of current landlords would not enter the buy-to-let market for the first time now.

Rather than invest, they would stay out of the market, citing government intervention, regulatory changes, economic uncertainty and a lack of returns.

Out of 738 landlords asked for their opinions, 40% said they would still invest in buy-to-let, saying it provides better returns than other types of investment and they believe property can still deliver capital growth.

Only one in four landlords said they intended to increase rents over the course of the next 12 months, while a majority of landlords believe they are renting out at least one of their properties below market rental value.

Half (51%) called for the Government to U-turn on policies designed to squeeze private landlords – specifically, the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge on the purchase of buy-to-let properties, and the phasing out of mortgage interest tax relief.

The landlords were taking part in a poll commissioned by mortgage lender Foundation Home Loans.

By ROSALIND RENSHAW

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Landlords seek u-turns on tax relief

A majority of landlords believe future government u-turns on the increase in stamp duty and cuts to mortgage interest tax relief could provide a “significant stimulus” to the buy-to-let and private rental sectors, latest research by Foundation Home Loans reveals.

Over half (51%) of landlords argued that both measures to be addressed in order to help build greater confidence in the sector.

Jeff Knight, director of marketing at Foundation Home Loans, said: “It doesn’t seem surprising that the two biggest impacts on landlords over the past five years – stamp duty increases and cuts to mortgage interest tax relief – are seen as the biggest factors holding back the market.

“Clearly, such measures were always going to have a real influence and they have undoubtedly resulted in a large number of so-called amateur landlords either selling up, or not being able to go ahead and add to portfolios.

“We now have a sector which is much more in line with professional and portfolio landlords; utilising limited company vehicles to ensure they retain their tax relief, and where appropriate, adding to their portfolios via these structures.

“Because of this, the move towards greater levels of limited company business is likely to continue for many landlords, as I expect a u-turn is very unlikely despite fiscal loosening likely to be a strategy adopted in the very near future to stimulate a weakening economy.

Meanwhile almost a quarter (22%) suggested remaining in the EU would give the biggest boost, whilst 14% said securing the UK’s withdrawal from the EU would be the most helpful.

Four in ten landlords said they would still be willing to make their first investment in property, arguing that buy-to-let remains a good long-term investment.

According to the research however, 50% of landlords said that due to government intervention and regulatory changes, they would not choose to make a first investment decision now.

Only on in four landlords said they wanted to increase rents in the next 12 months, whilst a majority believe they are renting out at least one of their properties below market value.

Knight continued: “There is a continued appetite to be active in this sector and a recognition of the strong demand for quality properties from tenants.

“That being the case, and with a perhaps more sympathetic government ear, we might anticipate that demand for mortgage advice and buy-to-let mortgages will continue to grow, although many are clearly worried about the current economic uncertainty and what might happen in a post-Brexit world.

“The other positive here is the long-term view taken by many landlords and the fact over four in 10 would still invest today if it was their first property.

“Given all the demographics and the underlying demand drivers for the private rental sector, advisers are still likely to see a steady stream of landlord clients seeking to remortgage and/or purchase, for many years to come.

“It continues to pay to be a specialist in this sector and Foundation is here to help advisers develop their buy-to-let propositions for the demand that is clearly still out there.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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More landlords opt for limited companies

Purchasing a buy-to-let property through a limited company is now more than twice as popular as buying as an individual, as more landlords are seeking out the most tax efficient methods.

Research from Precise Mortgages showed more than half of landlords (55 per cent) plan to use limited companies to buy properties in the year ahead — more than double the 24 per cent who intend to buy as an individual.

The findings also showed the number of landlords using limited companies to expand their portfolio was on the up, from 44 per cent at the end of 2018 to 53 per cent in the first three months of 2019.

Limited companies were the most popular among landlords with a portfolio of 11 or more properties — as 71 per cent of landlords in this sector used them for purchases — but it was also the dominant choice for those with 10 or fewer properties (51 per cent).

By comparison, only 27 per cent of landlords with 10 or fewer properties chose to buy as an individual.

The buy-to-let market grew rapidly after the financial crisis but has since taken a beating as a number of tax and regulatory changes have hit landlords’ pockets.

How the rules changed:

An additional 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge, introduced in April 2016, was closely followed by the abolition of mortgage interest tax relief for landlords.

Landlords then took a further hit when a shake up of rules by the Prudential Regulation Authority meant buy-to-let borrowers were now subject to more stringent affordability testing.

The changes to mortgage relief have been phased into the system since April 2017, but by April 2020 landlords will be unable to deduct any of their mortgage expenses from taxable rental income.

Instead, they will receive a tax-credit based on 20 per cent (the current basic tax rate) of their mortgage interest payments.

Following the changes, landlords who were higher or additional-rate taxpayers would now only get refunds at the 20 per cent rate, rather than top rate of paid tax.

On top of this, landlords could also be forced into a higher tax bracket because they would need to declare the income that was used to pay the mortgage on their tax return.

Based on a property yielding £950 in rent and a £600 mortgage per month, the landlord’s income could drop by about 57 per cent after the rule changes, from £2,520 to £1,080, as shown in the table:

Tax yearProportion of mortgage interest qualifying for 20% tax credit under previous systemProportion of mortgage interest qualifying for 20% tax credit under new systemTax billPost-tax and mortgage rental income
Prior to April 2017100%0%£1,680£2,520
2017-1875%25%£2,040£2,160
2018-1950%50%£2,400£1,800
2019-2025%75%£2,760£1,440
From April 20200%100%£3,120£1,080

Source: Which.co.uk

Due to the tax shake up, limited company status is more attractive to landlords as changes would not affect them and they can offset mortgage interest against profits which are subject to corporation tax instead of income tax rates, which is cheaper.

Interest coverage ratios on limited company applications are also lower than for most individual landlord applications, according to Precise.If landlords who are higher rate taxpayers hold properties directly in their own name, in some circumstances this additional tax can wipe out all profits.John Goodall, chief executive at Landbay

Alan Cleary, managing director of Precise Mortgages, said: “Despite the challenges in the market, professional landlords have still managed to grow their portfolios over the past year with the use of limited companies, and it will continue to be the most preferred purchase route particularly for those with larger portfolios.”

Mr Cleary said the increased use of limited company status was further evidence of how the buy-to-let market was changing and demonstrated how brokers and their clients needed “expert specialist support” when buying as a limited company or considering switching.

Traditional buy-to-let mortgages have also become more popular, according to the research, as nearly seven in ten (69 per cent) landlords now intend to fund their next portfolio purchase with such a policy, compared with 62 per cent at the end of 2018.

David Hollingworth, director at L&C Mortages, said: “With the changes to tax relief on mortgage interest being felt by many landlords that pay higher rate tax, there’s likely to be more considering the use of a limited company as they seek to grow a portfolio.

“Being able to set the cost of mortgage interest against income within the limited company will be the main draw and corporation tax is charged at lower rates.

“Tax advice should be a crucial part of the landlord’s decision to use a limited company and help them understand the practical considerations of setting up and using a company as well as the potential for personal tax when withdrawing income from the company.”

Mr Hollingworth added the growing number of mortgage options for those using limited companies would also help to give landlords more choice to improve the rates on such specialist products.

John Goodall, chief executive at Landbay, said he was seeing a significant increase in landlords who were borrowing within a limited company.

“If a landlord holds their buy-to-let properties within a company structure they will be taxed on profits in the usual way, and the interest they pay will be treated as a cost.”

The market has also seen a number of landlords leave the buy-to-let space due to the changes and in May, as research from Arla Propertymark showed the number of landlords selling their properties had increased by 25 per cent.

The number of new landlords coming to market also took a hit and the number of new buy-to-let purchases dropped 9.1 per cent year-on-year in March.

By Imogen Tew

Source: FT Adviser