If you have a buy-to-let portfolio, reading the daily news has become a gloomy occupation. Indeed, increasing numbers of landlords have decided to sell up. In this landlord news update, we take a look at three topics of concern: shrinking profits, a likely rise in insurance costs and a probable cut in the Capital Gains Tax threshold.
Landlord profits to shrink to £7?
The first landlord news item comes from the Daily Telegraph, which calculates that average profits from buy-to-let will slump to £7 per year.
The driver behind this huge drop in profit is increased buy-to-let mortgage costs. The Telegraph uses an example provided by Hamptons estate agents. It is of a landlord who bought a property in 2020 with a 1.89% mortgage. This would have led to interest payments of £2,261 per year. As an average higher-rate taxpayer, their profit would have been £2,526.
However, if the same landlord re-mortgaged the property today, annual interest payments would rocket to £7,127. Even taking into account the 24% average rent growth over the period, this would see the landlord’s profit sink to £7.
Worse still, landlords in five areas of the country will find their properties become loss-making. These are: London, East of England, the South East, the South West and the West Midlands. These areas have higher house prices, thus leading to higher mortgage costs.
As a result, many landlords will face three options. These are: huge rental increases, putting capital into their mortgages to reduce repayments, or selling up.
Rising rents and landlord insurance
While putting up rents may seem a logical solution, there are signs that many tenants are already struggling to pay rent at current levels.
According to insurer Alan Boswell Group, rent guarantee insurance claims spiked 46% higher in October 2022 when compared with six months earlier. Demand for such policies also grew by 60% during the same period, suggesting that more landlords are expecting tenants to have difficulties paying up.
The inevitable consequence of this pattern is that landlord insurance costs will go up. So if you haven’t currently got rent guarantee insurance, now may be a good time to get it. Insurers are also likely to tighten up their acceptance criteria, meaning you’ll almost certainly need to use the insurer’s tenant referencing service and choose tenants with a high rent-to-income ratio.
CGT – more bad news for landlords?
If you decide that selling up is the best option, you need to be aware that changes to the Capital Gains Tax system may well be in the pipeline.
According to the Daily Mail, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is planning to cut the CGT tax-free allowance from £12,300 per year to £6,000. This would mean basic-rate paying landlords will pay 18% CGT on gains over £6,000. Higher-rate taxpayers would face a bill of 28%. The Daily Mail gives the example of a higher-rate taxpayer making a net gain of £100,000 on a second home. This would lead to an eye-watering CGT bill of £24,556.
Should I put more capital into my properties?
If you can’t raise rents and you don’t want to sell your buy-to-let properties, the third way of reducing your costs is to put more capital into your portfolio. This will reduce the amount of interest you have to pay. It’s certainly a strategy worth considering if you have the capital available.
However, if you are looking for ways of protecting your margins, we strongly recommend our special Landlords’ Platinum Accounting Service. This not only provides you with free software that streamlines the way you manage your portfolio, but it also gives you a raft of other benefits, including arrangement of fee-free mortgages via our mortgage broker partners. Call us now on 0800 6520 025 to find out more.
About Jon Pryse-Jones
Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.
An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”
Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board. “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says. He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.