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Home » News » Mortgages » Buy To Let » Private rental market besieged by woes

Billions of pounds have been promised to all kinds of workers, from self-employed plumbers to marketing professionals. However, one group has been left behind.

Private landlords do not fall into any of the rescue packages launched by the Government. They do not have an employer who can furlough them but are generally not considered to be self-employed for the purposes of the grant scheme for freelancers either.  So, if your rental income dries up – tough luck, is the official message.

Buy-to-let owners are able to take a three-month break on their mortgages, but this is little help for the one in three who own their properties outright.  Some are also dealing with confused tenants who have stopped paying rent while others are struggling to visit their properties to perform vital maintenance work.

Landlords have already been knocked back by a number of heavy blows.  Their profits have been gradually eroded by stamp duty changes and the tapering away of tax-relief on their mortgages.

Many had already been considering packing in and selling up: but now it’s crunch time.  According to one estimate, 80,000 landlords may be forced to quit the sector following coronavirus.  This will hurt tenants too and could spark a sharp downturn in house prices.

With official support severely lacking, landlords must step in to protect themselves from the financial impact of coronavirus. Here are four ways they can do so:

1. Speak to your tenants immediately so they are aware of their rent obligations.  If they are unable to pay encourage them to seek government support such as claiming Universal Credit.  If you agree to a payment holiday with tenants make sure to get this in writing and make them aware this is merely a deferral of the payment – not cancelling it entirely.

2. Try to arrange breaks from your bills, including council tax, gas and electricity – particularly if your property is unoccupied. Some energy suppliers are offering to set up repayment plans for hard-up customers.  This should not, in general, affect your credit score.

3. If you think you might need a contractor to visit your property, try to find one as soon as possible as they are in short supply at the moment. You could also consider taking a video of the work that needs doing, or asking your tenant to do so, and sending it to a plumber or electrician for advice. Some are now offering their services virtually.

4. See if you can arrange to delay the payment for your self-assessment tax return.  If you contact HM Revenue and Customs you should be able to defer any tax due in July until January 2021.

[Source: Telegraph Money, 22 April 2020]

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