Exit reading mode

How are the new buy-to-let regulations going to affect me?

Posted on 12/09/2018, by Joe Jones

We’ve seen a lot of new regulations introduced recently, geared around shaking up Britain’s property investment sector.

Some of which have no doubt already been the cause of a few headaches for buy-to-let investors. And with even more rules set to come into force over the next couple of years, it’s a lot to get your head around.

So, here’s our overview of all the changes that new and existing landlords need to know about.

Stamp duty increased by 3%

Buy-to-let investors have been hit with a 3% stamp duty increase when purchasing any additional properties. The bump up means those purchasing a £300,000 property will have to pay an extra £9,000 compared to before the rise was introduced.

No more tax relief on mortgage interest

By 2020, landlords will no longer be able to deduct their mortgage interest when calculating the amount of tax they need to pay. The total you can offset dropped to just 50% this April, and will continue to decrease down to zero.

At this point it will be replaced by a tax credit, worth 20% of the mortgage interest. This means that, for a property earning £950 in rent a month and paying a mortgage of £600, your tax bill would end up being an extra £1,440 more expensive a year.

Wear and tear allowance abolished

Until recently, a landlord could claim 10% of the net annual rent of a property for the wear and tear of furnishings. You could make this claim whether or not there was actually any outgoings on these items.

For example, if a landlord was making £8,000 in net rent a year, they could be given an allowance of up to £800 for any potential damage to the property.

Now, however, you must apply for Replacement Relief at the time you’re replacing a damaged item. It means landlords will only get tax relief as and when it’s needed. And, as it only counts for replacements, it won’t apply to those kitting out a property for the first time.

More stringent mortgage checks

Landlords that have four or more properties will now need to provide full financial details of their property portfolio when applying for a new mortgage. The idea is to ensure mortgage providers are able to take into account the amount of equity you currently own, and are made aware of the debt you already have.

The mortgage process is likely to become more time-consuming and complex, and could result in those with mortgage-heavy portfolios getting turned down for any future finance.

Energy efficiency

Properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in the lowest two categories will no longer be eligible for lettings from 2020. The lowest EPC allowed will be category E, with fines of up to £5,000 for any landlord breaching these standards.

Most new properties will meet this grade already. However, according to Which?, there could still be up to 330,000 rented properties that don’t yet comply with the new ruling.

So what will it all cost?

No doubt the main concern of most landlords will be the effect this has on the bottom line.

A recent study by Octopus found that a London house bought for £475,000 today would have to be sold for £590,00 eight years later just to break even.

While these changes certainly won’t spell the end of buy-to-let – it can still be a remarkably profitable venture – the market is clearly set to evolve as investors adapt to a more challenging environment. With profits starting to feel the squeeze, it may leave some landlords wondering if it’s still worth it.

To find out more about how the new rule changes are affecting the buy-to-let sector, take a read of our report, Buy-to-let Britain: a divided nation.