Thinking of becoming a landlord?

By June 8, 2022Investments
Person at desk assessing finances while looking at icons of three houses - Thinking of becoming a landlord

The private rental sector has grown significantly over recent years, with over 4.5m tenants now renting from private landlords in the UK. Propertymark  – the professional body for the lettings industry – reported in April that their agents continue to see strong demand, with 10 new registrants for each available property to rent in their member’s branches. In light of the increased demand, it would, perhaps, be easy to conclude that buying a property to let would be a good decision at the current time; however, tenants’ requirements are also shifting, and with many now working from home on a part or full time basis, having the right property, in the right location, is key.


Introducing our Taxation of Property brochure

Whether you are looking to buy, sell, or rent a property a thorough understanding of the tax implications is essential. For up-to-date information and expert advice please access our latest Taxation of Property brochure here.


Growth about to stall?

Landlords have enjoyed the benefits of house price growth in addition to rental income over recent years. Despite the effects of the pandemic that were felt across much of the wider economy, house prices have continued to climb (although the Stamp Duty holiday which ran until 30th June 2021 certainly gave prices a helping hand).

Recent surveys and reports have, however, suggested that price growth may finally be slowing. The Office for National Statistics reported annualised house price growth slowed from 11.3% to 9.8% in March, although behind the headline numbers, the rate of growth is variable depending on location. For example, annual price growth in London is only 4.8%, compared to the East Midlands region, where growth has exceeded 12% over the last year.

Given the economic shock of higher inflation and consecutive interest rate increases, it is highly likely that this downward trend will continue, and may well accelerate, as higher costs of living and increased borrowing costs limit affordability for house buyers.


Potential changes in legislation

There have been increasing calls for further legislation of the private rental sector, which may well have cost implications for landlords over coming years.

Legislation may be introduced by the end of 2022 to prevent landlords from evicting tenants without giving a specific reason. This could lead to serious implications,  as under the proposed legislation, the likely route to remove tenants would be through the court system or specialist tribunals. One option to protect landlords may be to consider asking for several months’ rent paid upfront or for a guarantor to be provided.

A compulsory energy performance certificate rating of ‘C’ has been proposed, for new tenancies by December 2025, and on all rented properties by December 2028. This could be a major issue for landlords with older properties, as the cost of remedial works may make the financial decision to continue letting an older property unviable. As ever, the proposed legislation is subject to change and carrying out expensive improvement work is not recommended until definite rules are in place.


New rules for holiday lets

Holiday lets have become increasingly popular, in particular given the boom in UK holidays seen during the pandemic. However, if you are a second homeowner with a holiday let, you have a year to ensure you won’t be caught by the closure of a tax loophole used by some to avoid council tax bills on their holiday homes.

Currently, those with second homes in England can avoid paying council tax and can access small business rates relief if they state they are planning to use their property as a holiday let.

Until now, homeowners have not had to provide any evidence that this home has in fact been rented out to holidaymakers, allowing some to gain a tax advantage, despite the property being occupied solely or primarily for private use and standing empty for much of the year.

From April 2023 new rules stipulate that holiday rentals must have been let for a minimum of 70 days in the previous year to qualify for the council tax exemption and small business rates. In addition the property must be available to let for 140 days a year. Property owners will have to provide letting receipts and details of where the property is advertised to holidaymakers, e.g. online or via brochures. Those that fail to let out their property for the required period will have to pay council tax the following year.

Business rates are paid to the local authority. Like council tax, the amount paid will depend on the ‘rateable value’ of the business property. However, as many holiday lets are effectively small-scale businesses, many will qualify for small business rate relief, which will effectively mean no charge at all. Government figures show that around 65,000 holiday lets in England are liable for business rates, but around 97% have rateable values of up to £12,000. If the rateable value is less than £12,000 then there will be no business rates to pay. These rates are also reduced, on a sliding scale, if the rateable value is between £12,000 and £15,000.

Landlords running commercial holiday let businesses, which encourage tourism and provide jobs and local revenue across the country, will, however, not be penalised.


A more balanced decision?

The property rental market has been buoyant for some time, although we feel the decision to take on a new rental property is more finely balanced than it has been for some time. With a slowing economy, higher interest rates and inflation, and legislative changes proceeding through Parliament, landlords have plenty to consider. It could be the case that other forms of investment, such as a diversified investment portfolio of equities and fixed interest securities could produce an attractive income yield to match rental income, in a more tax efficient manner, and without the potential legislative headaches.


If you would like to discuss the above with one of our experienced financial planners, please get in touch here.


The value of investments and the income they produce can fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in stocks and shares should be regarded as a long term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and your financial circumstances.