The ongoing trend towards greater competition in the buy-to-let mortgage market stepped up a notch today, when the Yorkshire Building Society said that it will be loosening its lending criteria for such deals offered to borrowers in England and Wales. It was last August that the building society first started offering buy-to-let mortgages, via its subsidiary arm Accord Mortgages. The mortgages were first rolled out in the heated London and South Eastern regions, but have been expanded across the country due to their success. Among the changes to Yorkshire’s mortgage criteria are reducing the minimum income an applicant requires from £35,000 to £20,000, lowering applicants’ minimum age from 30 to 25 and a reduction in the minimum property value from £150,000 to £100,000. Commenting on the changes, the building society’s head of buy-to-let Jeremy Law said: “We have listened to brokers and taken the opportunity our staged entry has provided to revise our lending criteria.” “However, our lending policy will still reflect the values of the Yorkshire as a prudent mutual and our primary focus is, and always will be, the interests of our members.” This year so far has seen an across-the-board expansion of buy-to-let mortgage deals due to the relatively better status of the private rented market in the UK, compared to the sluggish housing market. According to property website Rightmove, there are almost three times as many buy-to-let mortgage deals on the market than in 2009 partly because of the phenomenon of “trapped renters,” a term referring to tenants who would like to take out a mortgage but are ineligible for a loan.