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Budget Targets Landlords

Budget Targets Landlords

Was The Budget Really That Much Of A Surprise?

The first Conservative budget for 20 years was expected to be good for Britain; however, the reality was not what many landlords wanted to hear.

The decision to target private rental sector landlords and property investors wasn’t too much of a surprise, as the Government can plainly see where the profits are being made and they, like all the rest of the political parties, want a slice.

On the run up to the general election in May 2015 every other political party openly stated that they intended to target landlords, whilst the conservatives remained quiet, prompting a few political commentators to predict that policies would be introduced surreptitiously that would effectively put money into Government coffers.

That’s exactly what we got last week!

The key points that affect landlords from George Osborne’s budget statement include:

Benefit Cap Lowered To £20,000 (GBP)

The total amount of benefits a family can receive over the course of a year has been reduced from £26,000 (GBP) to £20,000 (GBP) – (£23,000 in London).

This is a particular concern for landlords as any loss of income from the reduced benefit cap will hit tenants’ housing benefit first.

Many private rental sector landlords are now worried about increased rent arrears and the probability that many areas of the UK will become unaffordable for large families to live in.

The Government have said that they will allocate £800 Million (GBP) of discretionary housing payments for councils to help affected tenants.

Housing Benefit Abolished For Under-21s

From April 2017 the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18- to 21-year-olds will be scrapped for new claimants.

Exceptions will be made for vulnerable young people, including those unable to return to their family home and claimants who were in work for six months prior to making a claim.

Working-Age Benefits Frozen For Four Years

The freeze means Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will fall further behind inflation as the chancellor seeks to stop the housing benefit bill soaring with increasing rents.

Buy To Let Landlord Mortgage Relief Cut

In a £2bn tax bombshell, from April 2017 landlords will no longer be able to claim tax reliefs worth 40% or 45% of the interest payments on their buy-to-let mortgages. Instead, the maximum tax relief will be set at 20%, although the change will be introduced over a four-year period.

Effectively it looks as though 40%/45% taxpayers will only get around half of their mortgage interest (and arrangement fees) offset against their rental income.

20% taxpayers shouldn’t see much change as all mortgage relief will be limited to the basic rate of income tax.

The effect of this will be staged meaning that

  • 25% of this extra tax will be payable on profits made in the April 2017 – April 2018 tax year,
  • 50% in April 2018 – April 2019,
  • 75% in April 2019 – April 2020
  • 100% in April 2020 – April 2021 meaning that the full effect of this change won’t be felt until the January 2022 personal tax bill is due.

Despite the staged introduction many PRS landlords have warned that this could see costs passed on to tenants in the form of higher rents.

Wear And Tear Allowance Tightened

Landlords will have to prove they have improved or maintained their rental property before they can deduct the costs from their taxed profits.

Currently, landlords can deduct 10% of the rent from their profits to account for wear and tear regardless of whether they have improved the property or not.

From April 2016 this is set to be replaced by a new system that only allows landlords to get tax relief when they replace furnishings.

Changes To Non-Domicile Rules

This change in entitlement could affect property investment and buy to let, particularly in London as people born in the UK to parents domiciled here will not be able to inherit non-dom status and people will not be able to have permanent non-dom status.

Anyone resident in the UK for 15 of the last 20 years will have to pay full UK tax.

Rent A Room Tax Free Income Threshold Raised

After 18 years, the Rent A Room tax free income threshold is being raised to £7,000 (GBP) per year. There are an estimated 19 million empty bedrooms in owner-occupied properties in England alone. Freeing up just 5% of those rooms would accommodate 1 million people. This move will also fuel the growth in short, informal lets such as the type offered by Airbnb and the like.

The tax reliefs that have been cut by Mr Osborne were hugely important for landlords in being able to offset other astronomic property costs such as lettings agent fees, landlord insurance, maintenance and repairs costs, as well as council tax.

It is still early days and we need to see how HMRC will implement some of these changes, because they may also try to find additional ways to stop property investors and landlords from profiting from property, however, there are ways to get around some of the changes introduced, including:

Tax Relief

Limited (Ltd) companies appear to be excluded from the mortgage relief cuts meaning that property investors and landlords could potentially look to purchase their future investment properties through Ltd companies.

Buy To Let mortgage lenders could become more open to this method of purchasing properties similar to the way that commercial lenders already facilitate.

Landlords who already own properties personally or in a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) may want to transfer them to a Limited (Ltd) company; however, they will be subject to capital gains tax and stamp duty.

An alternative method to transfer property ownership whilst retaining the current mortgage would be by using a deed of trust, which would transfer the beneficial ownership to a Ltd company. A good solicitor can draw one of these up for you.

Property investors and landlords could also switch their focus slightly and purchase more properties that need refurbishments.

As long as the property is in a habitable condition when purchased but still needs redecoration and comes into the lettings market before the refurb is done, most repairs such as kitchens, bathrooms, paint etc can be offset against all property income from a whole rental portfolio.

Bird_OldLadyWe will always try to keep our sector alive and rents affordable as we are providing services to people who need them, we don’t set out to rip people off, we’re not politicians, we are the ones who take the financial risks, we’re the people who provide housing and it’s our name on the deeds not yours.

You see Mr Osborne, whilst you may think that you are being clever and are tapping in to wealth generated by other people’s hard work and risk taking, well, we as landlords won’t be beaten!

UK Property Investment Increases 8% In A Year

UK Property Investment Increases 8% In A Year

UK Property Investments Rise By 8% During 2014

UK property investment is booming again, thanks in part to the Government changes to the way pensions are controlled. The changes allow interested property investors to release pension funds for property purchases early, because bricks and mortar continue to offer a greater return than pension funds currently provide.

Property investment in the UK is becoming even more popular with the number of property investors increasing by 8% during the past year, according to data recently released by letting agent, Ludlow Thompson, with landlord numbers rising to approximately 1.63 million controlling approximately 3.1 million private rental sector (PRS) properties in the UK. 

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UK Residential Property Prices Only Increased By 0.5% Last Month

UK Residential Property Prices Only Increased By 0.5% Last Month

Residential Property Prices Only Increased By 0.5% Last Month 

New data released by Hometrack shows that residential property prices only increased by 0.5% during May 2014, less than previous price rises recorded in the three previous months, suggesting a slowdown in property sales and price growth.

The data shows that the proportion of UK regions recording property price increases during May had fallen to just 42%, down from the 50% recorded in March and April 2014.

While property prices may have continued to rise in London, there has been an overall slowing in the rate of growth, with property prices only increasing by 0.6% in May, compared to the 0.8% average increase over each of the previous six months.

The main growth in London is in lower priced areas of the capital that are perceived as offering better value for money, however, central London prices only increased by 0.2% in May. 

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Mortgage Market Review Already Causing Delays For Borrowers

Mortgage Market Review Already Causing Delays For Borrowers

Mortgage Market Review Already Causing Delays For Borrowers

Would be residential property buyers are dismayed about the change of the rules on residential mortgages, with strict lending criteria tightened following the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR).

Since 26th April 2014, mortgage lenders have been required to carry out much more detailed checks of a borrower’s financial situation to be sure that they can truly afford to purchase and continue to afford the property, both now and in the future.

The introduction of the MMR is supposed to help regulate the residential property purchase market and does not yet apply to buy to let mortgages, but that could happen in time.

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Mortgage Market Review Hits UK Property Market

Mortgage Market Review Hits UK Property Market

Mortgage Market Review Affected Housing Market Before Launch

The new regime for the approval of mortgages came into force over the weekend (26th April 2014) but even before it was officially launched it was having a dramatic effect on applications, with loan offers being carefully scrutinised and the impending process had lenders asking even more questions before approving any mortgage offer.

I experienced the vagaries of the system myself, when taking a call from a lender the day before funds were due to be released, I was asked to provide even more details than ever before on a loan application, culminating in further delay to purchasing, and the details I had to provide and verify could have been done weeks before.

The lender said the additional information was in order to comply with MMR and this was before the official launch date. The property I was purchasing should have completed last week, before the MMR introduction date, but the delays caused by the lender requesting verification of the additional information required to process my loan meant that the loan process was delayed and resulted in dragging things out, until 9am today, when my solicitor called me to say that the purchased had finally completed.

The additional requirements of the MMR will result in the death of quick purchasing by property investors, however, I now know that in order for loans to be agreed that I have to provide extremely detailed accounts, financial projections, and provide verified proof of everything I have ever done in order to prove affordability.

The personal finance industry publication Mortgage Strategy says 7 out of 10 mortgage brokers reckon that it will be harder and slower for prospective purchasers to get a mortgage loan under the new MMR regulations.

For all new mortgage applicants it means not only providing evidence to the lender of all income and earnings including payslips or audited and verified accounts for the self-employed, but also requires providing details of all spending, too.

Mortgage applicants must itemise and cost spending on things they cannot do without, as set out in a list provided by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), including food, household cleaning and laundry, all heating costs, water bills, telephone, essential travel and existing property charges such as council tax, buildings insurance, ground rent and service charges for leasehold apartments.

Applicants must also disclose discretionary spending on clothes, household goods, personal goods such as toiletries or leisure activities.

The FCA says mortgage applicants must itemise other debts such as credit card bills, outstanding loans, child maintenance and alimony payments.

Mortgage lenders and finance providers must consider how interest rates are predicted to change over the next five years, to gauge the affect on borrower’s mortgage repayments. If payments are likely to go up then the lender will check that the borrower can afford it based on disclosed financial commitments.

And if mortgage terms extend into a borrower’s retirement, the lender has to check on pension income predictions too, in order to judge continued affordability.

BoE Base Interest Rate Set To Remain Low Until 2015

BoE Base Interest Rate Set To Remain Low Until 2015

Base Interest Rates Set To Remain At
Low Levels Until The End Of 2015

A new economic forecast by Ernst & Young’s (EY) independent forecasting group, the Item Club, reckons that Bank of England (BoE) interest rates will remain at their historic low until the end of 2015 as wages start to outstrip inflation.

The Bank of England’s base rate has an impact on mortgage loans on property and savings returns and with the base rate remaining at 0.5%, it expects house prices to rise by 7.4% this year and 7.2% next year.

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UK Property Prices Continue To Rise

UK Property Prices Continue To Rise

UK Property Prices Increased By 0.6% In August 2013

The latest House Price Index (HPI) published by UK building society and leading mortgage lender, Nationwide, reveals that UK property prices are continuing to increase at a steady and sustainable pace.

Data from the Nationwide HPI show that UK property prices are now 3.5% higher than they were in 2012 and 0.6% higher than they were in July 2013, making a typical residential property now worth around £170,514 (GBP).

The data also reveals that the annual rate of residential property price growth has slowed, down to 3.5% from the 3.9% observed last month, but economists had allowed for a drop in growth because of only having a low base for comparative purposes.

The quarterly measure of UK property prices has increased by 1.4%, showing that residential property prices are rising at their strongest pace for the last three years, which could promote fears of another property bubble.

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Mortgage repayments have fallen by more than two-fifths in Scotland when taken as a proportion of income

 

Scotland is best place to get a mortgage

Scotland is best place to get a mortgage

Mortgage payments have fallen from a peak of 38% in last quarter of 2007 to just 22% in the final quarter of 2012, according to research conducted by Bank of Scotland.

Lower residential property prices and reduced mortgage rates have been the main driving force behind the significant improvement in affordability.

The average monthly take-home wage in Scotland is £1,954 (GBP) while the average monthly mortgage payment is just £424 (GBP).

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New research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) shows UK property prices rising by 0.8% in 2012.

CEBR confirm a view that has remained fairly consistent for the last 3 years, that low interest rates and an increasing availability of mortgage products suitable for First Time Buyers (FTB’s), next time buyers and Buy To Let Landlords will help UK residential property prices creep up over the 2012-2016 period, reaching pre-recession levels in the second quarter of 2016.

The CEBR based its forecasts on a mix of micro and macro factors.

  • The key micro factor is the shortage of housing relative to potential household formation.
  • The key new micro issue is the changes in the planning regulations re-announced in the Budget.

These are likely gradually to boost the supply of housing and will constrain the gentle rise in house prices.

The key macro factors are

  • Affordability
  • Employment
  • Mortgage availability

The first of these will be slightly positive, the second slightly negative and the third increasingly positive.

The CEBR expect the mortgage famine to ease gradually as further quantitative easing flows through the economy and as banks recapitalise themselves.

“House prices have been pretty stable over the past two years” says Shehan Mohamed, main author of this report “Lending for housing was £74.5 billion in 2011 and we forecast that this will rise to £109.9 billion by 2016”.

CEBR’s regional house price analysis, also included in the report, shows house prices are likely to continue to rise more quickly in the London and the South East, though the gap in house price inflation with the rest of the country is likely to close because of the 7% stamp duty and the heavy taxation on corporate home ownership announced in the Budget and because of the non-recurrence of special factors like the Arab Spring and the euro crisis which boosted the London market in 2011.

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