Huge Rise in Landlords with Mortgage Woes

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Buy-to-let landlords have faced numerous unwelcome changes over the past year or so. They’re beginning to feel the bite of new rules in the amount of tax relief they can claim, with the figure dropping significantly the further into the future we go. Add in the stamp duty changes and it is no wonder many landlords are rethinking their position in the marketplace. While some have changed their business format from sole trader to a limited company to minimise the tax paid, others are facing problems with arrears on their mortgages. UK Finance has revealed a huge jump in the number of landlords who are now in significant arrears compared with just 12 months previously. Research shows 1,200 buy-to-let mortgages owed arrears of at least 10% of the outstanding amount in Q4 of 2017. This was 20% higher than the same quarter in 2016. A much smaller rise in lower arrears on buy-to-let mortgages The same research indicated BTL mortgages with arrears of around 2.5% were also up over the same period a year earlier. UK Finance said the rise was 2% – far smaller than those in serious arrears. Despite these figures making sobering reading, repossessions in this area of the market have remained steady across Q4 of 2017 compared with a year earlier. 600 buy-to-let properties were repossessed by lenders, which is identical to the previous year. A stark contrast to homeowner mortgages “These figures do not necessarily come as a huge surprise,” said Darren Pescod, CEO of The Mortgage Broker Limited. “We know landlords have had to cope with many changes in recent months, none of which have been in their favour. We are now beginning to see the effect these changes are having on landlords. While many are in mild arrears, there has been a huge jump in those who are having serious repayment issues. “This is in stark contrast to homeowner mortgages. Figures for the same period reveal a drop of 7% in arrears of 2.5% or more in the final quarter of 2017 compared with a year earlier. There was also a drop of 1% in those with serious arrears. To have a drop in both those metrics compared with a huge rise in serious arrears for buy-to-let landlords shows how stark the difference is.” More changes are coming This situation is unlikely to get better. In fact, with the chance of another rate rise coming soon (possibly this May), we are likely to see more issues for landlords rather than less. Furthermore, new affordability rules for landlords should bring BTL mortgages broadly into line with those offered to private homeowners. So, will we see another rise in arrears for landlords? It’s possible, particularly as tax relief rules continue to change. We are only just beginning to see the effect of those changes biting those with buy-to-let income. With some landlords having already quit the market, they could soon be followed by more if the pattern continues.