What buy-to-let landlords can expect in 2019
Maxim Cohen, chief executive, The UK Adviser
As 2019 gets underway, and economic conditions continue to be uncertain, it is important for buy-to-let investors to be on top of the market and its changes.
The past three years have seen the market face a host of new regulations and tax changes, and this year is set to be no different as buy-to-let landlords must brace themselves for further uncertainty. However, it’s not all bad news – some of the changes are set to have a positive impact on the market, and there are still plenty of landlords planning to increase their property portfolios over the coming 12 months.
Tax reforms have been unkind to the buy-to-let market, with landlords only able to claim 25% of their mortgage tax relief, when filing their taxes between April 2019 – 2020. This is down from 50% for the previous tax year. Not only will this increase tax bills, but it could also mean that some landlords who are currently paying basic rate tax find that they are pushed into a higher rate band.
The good news is that the slow market activity means lenders are offering rock-bottom mortgage rates to tempt landlords, following the Bank of England’s base rate decision last year. However, the low rates are unlikely to stay that way for long. Many mortgage lenders will continue to offer incentives, such as free valuations and cashback, to attract business from landlords.
From April, all lettings agents will be required to register with a Client Money Protection scheme (CMPS), which protects both landlord and tenant money. For example, deposits, rent or money for property maintenance – should the letting agent go into administration. Landlords can rest assured that even in an uncertain economic climate, their rental income will be protected.
The likely introduction of the Tenant Fees Bill will also offer greater peace of mind to tenants, although it could come at a detrimental cost to landlords. The bill will mean tenants will only be required to pay their deposit and rent when signing a new tenancy agreement. If letting agents increase charges in other areas to compensate for the loss of fees, and subsequently become too expensive for a landlord to use, they may have to pass the added costs onto tenants in the form of rent increases. Alternatively, more landlords may decide to self-manage their properties rather than go through an agent, however this may result in many landlords struggling to stay on top of ever-changing property rules and legislations.
Of course, depending on the outcome of Brexit, house prices in the UK could take a hit. Deterred by the uncertainty of the property market, an increasing number of individuals could be looking to rent property instead of buying, pushing up the demand for rental housing and the cost of rent. If you’re currently considering investing in buy-to-let property, it’s worth monitoring the property market, as house prices have the potential to drop significantly. However, you will need to be prepared to act quickly if you are hoping to invest in buy-to-let property, so getting your finances in order ahead of 29 March will make you are more attractive buyer. Alternatively, bridging loans and other alternative finance options can give landlords access to fast, flexible finance to secure property acquisitions in a competitive market.
2019 is set to be an uncertain time for landlords and staying on top of the new regulations can feel like a full-time job in itself. The UK Adviser offers support to landlords of all portfolio sizes, ensuring that you remain fully compliant amid the economic and political market changes.