House prices and rental yield have risen significantly over the last few decades. So, it’s no surprise that becoming a landlord is often seen as an attractive way to supplement income or create a nest egg for retirement. However, research shows that landlords have to contend with significant costs too.
If you’re thinking of using property to build up your wealth, it’s important that you go ahead with a clear understanding of how much a landlord can expect to pay out as well as the income earned.
According to research from LV= landlords in the UK are spending nearly £4.7 billion a year on their rental properties. On average, each landlord is paying around £3,134, eating significantly into the profits a property is likely to deliver. For many, the cost and time involved in managing their properties has become so great 600,000 (41%) are actively considering selling up.
Changing legislation for landlords
For many landlords, it’s likely legislative changes are having an impact on the decision to consider selling.
Regulatory changes mean that landlords now have far more responsibilities to ensure their properties are well maintained. This includes making sure all gas and electrical equipment are safely installed and maintained, providing an Energy Performance Certificate and testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, adding to the cost of letting a house.
What’s more, tax perks have been reduced. Since 2017/18 a new Buy to Let tax system has been phased in. Prior to this, you could deduct your mortgage interest payments from the rental income, meaning you paid less tax. However, the payments qualifying for this deduction have decreased by 25% a year. From April 2020, you won’t be able to deduct any mortgage interest payments from rental income. This may mean landlords have moved into a higher tax bracket and some could even be left with negative earnings.
On top of this, political and economic uncertainty may play a role in some landlords deciding to exit the market.
Meera Chindooroy, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the National Landlords Association, says: “Over recent years, landlords have faced a raft of haphazardly introduced new regulations which, compounded by tax changes, have increased the cost of letting. We have not seen any signs yet that the government intends to pursue a more strategic approach to help landlord’s future-proof themselves.”
7 landlord costs to keep in mind
If you’re thinking about investing in rental properties, getting an idea of how much it’ll cost you is essential for seeing if it’s a realistic option for you.
1. General maintenance
The research identified the cost of general maintenance as one of the largest outgoings. Average annual costs were:
- £370 for renovations and refurbishments
- £370 to repair or replace boilers
- £313 fixing structural damage
- £265 on decorating
- £203 for garden maintenance
Whilst some of these costs will be from general wear and tear, others will be the result of damage caused by tenants. Due to the actions of their tenants, landlords indicated that walls, white goods and doors were most likely to be damaged.
2. Complying with regulations
In addition to general maintenance, there are regulatory costs to consider. Whilst these are often small, they are worth keeping in mind. An Energy Performance Certificate is a legal requirement that will set you back £65 every ten years. A Gas Safety Certificate must be done every year, which will cost around £80 annually assuming everything is in working order.
As mentioned above, from April 2020 you won’t be able to offset interest in mortgage repayments against tax to be paid. If your income from property rental exceeds £1,000 annually, you must inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and you may need to pay Income Tax on the earnings. Whilst you won’t be able to offset mortgage repayments against tax soon, you may be able to deduct other allowable expenses, including letting agent’s fees, maintenance and repairs to the property, and ground rent.
4. Agent fees
Whether you use an agent to let your property or not is a personal choice. It does come with some benefits, such as the agency finding you a tenant and dealing with complaints, if you want a hands-off approach. However, this does come with a cost. You may have to pay an additional setup and administration fee when using an agency, as well as a percentage of the monthly rent, often around 10-15%. Be sure to read any terms and conditions carefully before selecting an agency to work with if you decide to go down this route.
5. Void periods
You should account for the period when no one is living in your property, known as void periods. You will still have to meet your mortgage repayments and may face other costs even though it’s not generating an income. Some void periods are unavoidable, but there are things you can do to minimise them such as ensuring you’ve researched the types of properties that are popular in the area and establishing good relationships with tenants.
6. Landlord insurance
Whilst most landlords have a good relationship with tenants, this, unfortunately, isn’t always the case. According to the research, a third of landlords admit that bad tenants are the most challenging part of letting a property. Almost half (46%) have experienced a tenant dispute, whilst 23% say it’s something they have to deal with at least once a year. The reason for disputes varies and include delayed rent and damage to the property. Landlord insurance can offer you some protection and peace of mind.
7. Mortgage repayments
Finally, you will, of course, need to make mortgage repayments. Most Buy to Let mortgages are interest only and, as a result of low-interest rates, will be relatively low. However, it’s important to consider how affordable these are. As you’ll likely only be paying the interest on a mortgage, you won’t own the property at the end of the term. You’ll either need to remortgage, sell the property or make provision to repay the loan.