Housing affordability and private landlords

Now the Government has promised a fund of £2bn to build affordable housing, who should rejoice?

People on lower incomes would welcome rented housing at a price they can afford. But not everyone will get the opportunity.

Housing shortage in the UK

£2bn will fund the building of an extra 5,000 homes per year.

Shelter says the total number of homes the UK’s growing population needs is around 250,000 a year. But we’re only building half the number of homes we need (140,000 were built in 2015).
So tenant demand for rental properties is set to continue, it would seem.

This is good news for landlords planning to expand their portfolios.

Good news too for tenants relying on the private rental sector to accommodate them.

Delve deeper and there are risks on both sides.

Rental increases

Outside London, rents are still increasing thanks to the demand for housing.

On the other hand, landlords are feeling the squeeze on profits.

Hit by policy changes, the numbers aren’t looking quite so good for buy-to-let property owners. Attacked by the additional 3% stamp duty (rising to 8% on properties over £250,001), the cut in mortgage interest tax relief and the tenants’ fee ban, the resulting costs are a challenge too far for some landlords to overcome.

Landlords who fear profit margins may not recover could decide to sell. Many are assessing their portfolios to calculate the effect the changes will have on profit. If mortgage interest rates are to rise as some analysts predict, this may push up costs beyond what it’s possible for landlords to absorb.

Any cut in homes available would increase demand and lead to higher rents.

Risk of arrears

Growing rent is tough on tenants and heightens the risk of arrears. Changes in the law make it harder for landlords to recover property from tenants who get into arrears. Councils want to keep people in houses for longer rather than evict them and risk homelessness.

It’s advisable as a landlord to check your insurance policy and put the right cover in place to protect you against the risk of your tenant getting into arrears and, possibly, the lengthy eviction process.

Not all landlords will feel the pressure or consider selling up. Some properties lend themselves for a change of use. Larger houses will divide into flats and commercial properties may convert into homes. These small steps could help ease the crisis in some areas.

Hold on tight and opportunities for landlords in the private rental sector look to remain strong.