Some 80% of landlords plan to increase their portfolios over the next 12 months, according to advice website The Property Hub.
Its study revealed the vast majority of landlords will buy at least one more property in 2019, equating to 1.95 million investors, while 70% said even a no-deal Brexit would not deter their plans for growth.
Meanwhile, 84% of landlords surveyed said they had no plans to sell any properties in the next three years, and 66% said even if the government were to announce further tax measures (such as restricting interest relief for companies), they still wouldn’t sell up.
The figures come amid a spate of new laws and regulations in the sector – including changes to stamp duty, the phasing out of mortgage interest tax relief, new licensing rules for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and minimum energy efficiency standards – which has led to concerns that landlords would leave the sector in their droves.
Rob Dix, co-founder of The Property Hub, commented: “There’s been so much talk of a mass exodus of landlords and the death of buy-to-let, it’s easy for some would-be landlords or, indeed, tenants, to believe the rental market is on its knees. However, it’s clear from our survey that landlords are far from retreating from the market.”
The survey also polled landlords on proposals that could significantly impact the industry, including the possibility of mandatory three-year tenancies.
When asked what would need to happen in order for them to support this policy, 82% said they’d need a way to remove tenants who fall into rent arrears that is faster than the current fault-based method, while 62% said they would need the ability to increase rents. Some 59% said there would need to be tax incentives, such as the ability to deduct more mortgage interest, while less than 9% said they would oppose the policy regardless.
Dix said that these results are not surprising. “Landlords obviously need to be protected too so it’s only natural that those operating in the sector are calling for some reassurance.”
When asked what they would need to see happen in order to support compulsory landlord licensing, 37% said they’d want the removal of any additional local schemes, except those applying to HMOs, and 43% said an annual fee that doesn’t exceed £100 per property.
Some 65% want a plan to ensure that it would discourage rogue landlords (such as proof that non-registration could be detected and enforced), and 55% said a tax incentive or removal of an existing anti-landlord tax measure would suffice. Again, less than 9% said they’d be against landlord licensing completely.
“It’s telling that the most popular wish for licensing – more popular even than a tax break – is some reassurance that it will actually work,” Dix continued. “The majority landlords take pride in providing a good service, and are as keen as anyone for the rogues who give the industry a bad name to be pushed out.”
He said that, taken as a whole, the caricature of landlords ‘fleeing the sector’ when the going gets tough isn’t in line with reality, as most landlords are in it for the long-term and have sound business plans.
“The Armageddon-style headlines in much of the press over the last two years in no way reflect the way landlords are feeling. Buy-to-let is far from dead. Are investors operating in a new landscape? Certainly. Is it one they’re unable to navigate successfully? Absolutely not.”