Tenant numbers in the UK are rising and the new generation of renters want high-quality accommodation. This coupled with factors including the 3% stamp duty surcharge has led to a rise in landlords releasing money from their properties to improve them rather than trading them in.
Since 2016, the number of landlords remortgaging in order to release cash from their buy-to-let properties has more than tripled, with 9,523 landlords remortgaging for this purpose according to data from Countrywide. This amounts to around 5.6% of the 171,421 landlords who remortgaged over the time period, compared to 8,459 in 2017 and just 2,967 in 2016, which was the equivalent of around 1.9%.
The record high figures could be down to a number of reasons. Recent changes to the buy-to-let sector have made the market more difficult for some landlords, including stricter lending rules, a stamp duty surcharge for additional property purchases, and Section 24 tax changes, which may be encouraging some to keep hold of existing properties rather than trade them in.
However, one major change has been the rise in the age of average home ownership in the UK, which has led to the growing numbers joining Generation Rent – young professionals as well as families and even older generations who are staying in the private rented sector (PRS). Many such individuals now look for a higher standard of rented accommodation as they will be living in it for longer, and landlords who invest more in their properties stand to attract better tenants and higher rents as a result.
Low stock levels drive growth
“A record number of landlords are remortgaging to release money to spend on their properties instead of trading up,” commented Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide. “The additional transaction costs incurred from the stamp duty changes for second-homeowners means more landlords are choosing to invest in their properties, refurbishing and improving them and holding on to them for longer to maximise gains.
“Average rents grew in seven out of eight regions across Great Britain, with Scotland being the only region to see falls. Rental growth during the first quarter of this year stands at 2.1%, 0.5% faster than the same period in 2017, as low stock levels continue to drive growth.”
In the east of England, one in 10 landlords used cash released from their rental properties for renovation – the highest proportion in the UK – while in London around 7.4% of landlords who remortgaged spent it on property improvements, according to Countrywide’s figures. London also saw the largest amounts of money spent in this way from remortgaging – £35,470 on average, compared to around £11,150 in Yorkshire and the Humber and £22,850 on average across the UK as a whole.