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Buying a property can be the biggest decision made in our lives. It is for this very reason that it is critical to obtain impartial advice from qualified advisers.

Becoming a private landlord should not be seen as an easy way of making money. It can be riskier and more complicated. It can also be very time consuming, more than most forms of investment, and there is no guarantee that house prices will rise. That said, having a second property to let to tenants could reap considerable financial rewards over time.

There are 3 main differences in buy to let mortgages:

  • Rent Potential - the decision as to whether or not a mortgage will be offered is usually based on the rent you will earn as well as your income. In some cases your income is not even considered.
 

  • Interest Rate - buy to let mortgages have slightly higher interest rates.
 

  • Larger Deposit - typically a minimum of 20% or 25% of the property's value is required as a deposit.

  • Since 1st April 2016 new higher rates of Stamp Duty applied to Buy to Let property purchases or Second Home purchases. The table below shows how much Tax may be liable on your purchase.
Buy-to-let and second home Stamp Duty tax bands
Brackets       Standard rate      Buy-to-let/second home rate 
Up to £125,000 0% 3%
£125,001 - £250,000 2% 5%
£250,001 - £925,000 5% 8%
£925,001 - £1.5m 10% 13%
over £1.5m 12% 15%
Source: HMRC    


When buying a second property to let, you will need to decide whether your primary objective is income or capital growth. In other words, are you looking to make a profit month on month or are you looking to make a profit through increased equity from the second property if it increases in value over time? The decision may affect the type of property you purchase, and the location. 

When you manage a property there are many costs involved in addition to the monthly mortgage repayments. As a guide, you should be aiming to achieve a gross rent of about 145% of the rental property's interest only mortgage repayments in order to cover your costs should anything go wrong.

These additional costs include:

  • Property upkeep - maintenance costs for the property.

  • Letting agent's fees - letting agents charge around 10% of the monthly rent for finding and vetting tenants with an additional cost of around 5% if you require a full management service.
 

  • Ground rent / service charges - applicable to leasehold properties.

  • Legal insurance - to cover costs from evicting tenants in the event of non-payment, very important, as this can be very expensive.
 

  • Insurance - building insurance and contents insurance for the items provided as part of the rental agreement.
 

  • Furnishings - the purchase of any furniture. If the property is to be let furnished, make sure you are covered for this by your home insurance.

  • Gas / electrical appliances - cost of maintaining appliances and ensuring they comply with any regulations such as safety tests.
 

  • Decorating costs - the property may require work ranging from painting, to a new bathroom suite before it is suitable for letting to tenants.


When choosing a property to let, it is wise to take advice from local letting agents to determine; what types of properties are in need and which parts of the town are best or most wanted. They can tell you if there is a University in the town, and if students are looking for somewhere to live.

This is a long term investment which you hope will generate rental income along the way and a profit when you sell the property, but bear in mind that if you need access to some cash a property can take time to sell or re-mortgage. If house prices fall, you might not be able to sell for as much as you had hoped. You would have to make up the difference if the property sold for less than you owe - a risk that increases, the higher the percentage you borrow. If you sell for a profit, you may have to pay capital gains tax. Don't forget that with a variable rate mortgage, your costs will rise if interest rates go up. This would eat into, or even wipe out, your income and profit.

 

A MORTGAGE IS A LOAN SECURED AGAINST YOUR PROPERTY. YOUR PROPERTY MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate most forms of buy to let mortgage.

 

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