It’s official – buy-to-let landlords are getting older

older landlord

As individuals, we’re all getting older – hopefully – but it seems that the general trend amongst landlords is the same. In 2004, the London School of Economics (LSE) conducted a survey. Twelve years later they repeated it and the differences are striking.

  • In 2004, 24 per cent of buy-to-let landlords were aged 55 or over. Now 61 per cent fall into that age group.
  • In 2004, 41 percent of landlords were under 45. Now that percentage has dropped to 20 per cent.
  • In 2004, most landlords were aged between 35 and 54. In 2016, most are aged between 47 and 66.
  • Almost 40 per cent of current buy-to-let landlords bought their first rental property ten years or more ago.

The house price effect in action

That’s a lot of numbers to take in, but they indicate that it’s getting harder to invest in rental property. Increased house prices don’t just affect those looking for somewhere to live. If you buy your first home later, it follows that you’ll invest in a buy-to-let later too. Or, indeed, it might be a few more years before you can afford to move up the property ladder and make the decision to rent out the original first home.

Tax changes and the older landlord

The Government has been making changes that affect landlords. Consequently, some are taking the route of incorporating their property businesses. But note that the transfer of ownership of a property into the assets of a limited company counts as a sale and purchase, with capital gains tax and stamp duty to be paid.

Removing higher-rate relief on mortgage interest payments will, however, only affect those landlords that have a mortgage on their buy-to-let investment. The LSE survey suggests that many landlords – almost half – have no debt at all. Similarly, as only 15 percent of landlords sold or purchased in the previous 12 months, the stamp duty surcharge that applies to buy-to-let properties will have had a limited effect.

If the Government is using tax and policy changes to reshape the property rental sector, data from surveys such as that produced by the LSE cannot be ignored. The effect of recent changes will not be felt by the debt-free older landlord, but by professional landlords with large portfolios and significant mortgage liabilities.

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