Buy-to-let landlords

Phil Spencer outlines reasons why landlords should stay in the sector

Buy-to-let competition is high in the UK among tenants, and Location Location Location’s Phil Spencer has set out the positives for landlords and investors in the sector right now.

TV personality Phil Spencer spoke to attendees at the Ideal Homes Show recently, where he explained his concerns for the private rental market and why he believes the rhetoric should change around landlords and property investors to ultimately benefit tenants and the housing market at large.

While homeownership is still a goal for millions of people in the UK, the private rented sector provides crucial accommodation to those who are unable to step onto the property ladder at present, or choose to rent for other reasons such as flexibility.

Landlords, therefore, play a key role, but in Spencer’s presentation at the event, he described the ‘vicious circle’ of the government essentially disincentivising property investors and landlords, which then leads to a worse deal for tenants – as well as greater competition in the market, which pushes rents up.

Lack of choice for tenants

Describing the Catch-22 situation in the market for landlords in an interview with the Metro, Spencer said: “I’m trying to get people to appreciate is that what is bad for landlords – which is that the tax rules have changed and buy-to-let is not generally an attractive investment – but the changes make it hard to make money which means there are less landlords.

“Existing landlords are selling up, and new landlords aren’t coming into the market. It’s a vicious circle and I see that as a real worry for society.”

There have been many measures and indices recently demonstrating the stock shortage in the rental sector, which is more prominent in some locations than others. With competition high for each property that comes onto the market, some tenants are finding themselves in bidding wars to secure a home.

Positives for landlords

In a recent article for Estate Agent Today, Phil Spencer reiterated the notion that some landlords may now be questioning the financial viability of buy-to-let. However, he also pointed out some key reasons why the industry could still make a fantastic investment option for many.

  1. Strong capital returns: He pointed out that the average house price in the UK increased by 20.4% between January 2020 and December 2022, or £48,620. Compared to most other assets you can invest in, this level of capital appreciation is unrivalled. Spencer added: “We doubt that same level of growth will be seen in the next three years but long term capital appreciation has been consistently good for bricks and mortar.”
  2. Excellent rental returns: This is a key component for landlords to consider, as this will provide a regular income while also covering the costs of any borrowing or maintenance, for example. According to Hamptons, the average property investment purchased in 2017 would have generated £96,000 by now in rent.
  3. Ongoing rental demand: As Spencer noted at the Ideal Homes Show, the level of tenant demand continues to outpace rental stock available. Housebuilding levels are not reaching government targets, which further adds to this demand, and means most landlords will not struggle to fill their rental homes quickly.
  4. Limited company ownership: This is an increasingly popular way for buy-to-let landlords and investors to own and run their properties, as a way of reducing tax costs and overheads. Limited companies are particularly beneficial for higher earners, but it’s worth seeking independent financial advice to see if this could work for you.
  5. Making a contribution: The UK’s rental sector is “not the landlord-tenant battleground some people claim it to be”, says Spencer. In fact, landlords are making a vital contribution to house millions of people. He also added in his column: “We know that almost all of those [negative] perceptions are unfair, and that the private sector provides valuable and typically good quality housing to tenants wanting the flexibility of renting.”

At BuyAssociation, we have many years of experience of helping property investors and buy-to-let landlords find their next investment opportunity. Get in touch today to find out more. 

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