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Everything you need to know about getting a Buy to Let Mortgage in 2019 explained

Everything you ever wanted to know about buy to let mortgages but didn’t know who to ask.

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Here’s quite possibly everything you ever wanted to know about buy to let (BTL) mortgages; but didn’t know who to ask.

BTL loans can seem quite daunting, but it’s actually a bit easier than you think …. If you get the right advice, that is.

That’s where we come in. We work with some of the best mortgage advisors in the business and have put together this online guide with the most often asked questions about UK buy to let mortgages in 2019.

If we haven’t covered a topic you want to know about, contact us and chat with a real human being who’s an expert in the ‘buy to let’ mortgage market and BTL property – they will be able to guide you through the traps and pitfalls.

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What is a buy to let (BTL) mortgage?

We often hear questions like What does buy to let (BTL) mean?” and What is a ‘buy to let’ property?” To put it simply, the definition of a buy to let mortgage is a type of property investment in which the buyer becomes a landlord with the aim of renting the property out at a profit.

Buy to let mortgages explained

A buy to let property is basically a house, flat or other type of building which has been purchased through a BTL mortgage with the intention to rent out to tenants. The buyer cannot be a permanent resident.

Most BTL mortgages are offered on an interest only basis, with the borrower settling the monthly interest payments using the rental income the property generates.

What is the difference between a buy to let and a residential mortgage?

So, what’s the difference between a buy to let and a residential mortgage? Well, how lenders assess this product is the main one.

Residential mortgages are assessed based on your personal financial circumstances, while BTL loans are based on the property’s profitability, i.e. how much rent it will generate offset against the cost of the loan. Elements of personal affordability, such as your tax banding, will be taken into account but the viability of the investment is often the deciding factor.

Another key difference is that BTL mortgages often come with a minimum salary requirement – between £20,000 and £25,000 is standard.

So, that’s a buy to let mortgage explained, but if you’re seeking further buy to let help, get in touch and the advisors we work with will tell you everything you need to know about this mortgage product type over the phone and connect you to the lenders offering the best deals for somebody with your circumstances.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of investing in a buy to let?

Purchasing a buy to let property has many pros, such as…

Advantages of a buy to let mortgage

  • Long term investment gains: Although the property market can fluctuate, the general trend is for house prices in the UK to rise over time. For instance, data from Zoopla suggests that property values have risen by almost 20% over the last decade, and by a whopping 263% over the last 20 years. This means there’s a strong chance your rental property will generate a profit if you choose to sell it.
  • The rental market is strong: Finding tenants for your buy to let property shouldn’t be too difficult, as Generation Rent is going nowhere. Moreover, recent government data revealed that the number of 35-54 year-olds in rented accommodation has doubled since 2006-07, and renting among all age groups is more likely to be from a private landlord rather than a council or housing association.
  • Tax benefits: Some of the running costs associated with buy to let properties can be reclaimed when you submit your Self-Assessment Tax Return to HMRC each year. These include interest on your mortgage repayments, letting agent fees, repair costs, council tax and other bills (if you’re footing them yourself).

You should also be aware of the potential drawbacks of a BTL mortgage, including…

Disadvantages of Buy to Let

  • Brexit uncertainty: Although property prices in the UK generally rise over time, it’s difficult to forecast how they will fluctuate when Britain finally leaves the European Union. BTL lenders may take this into account and offer you less favourable rates due to the increased risk – this why speaking to a whole-of-market broker (like the ones we work with) is important when it comes to finding the best deals.
  • Increased Stamp Duty: Since April 2016, BTL investors have been forced to fork out 3% more Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when purchasing a property. This can significantly add to the overall cost involved and means some landlords have been forced to pay several thousands more than those who invested pre-April 2016.
  • The risk of an empty property: There’s no guarantee your property will be occupied 100% of the time, and when it’s empty, you could be forced to foot the cost of the mortgage out of your own pocket, unless you have a good insurance deal in place.  

Although there are some disadvantages buy to let properties compared to other types of investment, it’s still possible for most borrowers to score a favourable deal.

Get in touch and the whole-of-market advisors we work with will help you find the right lender.


Buy to let mortgage eligibility explained

Along with your credit rating, there are a number of other factors that will affect your eligibility for a buy to let mortgage

  • Age: Some BTL mortgage lenders refuse to deal with borrowers aged over 75 or under 21. Others, however, are more flexible with their limits and a minority impose no cap whatsoever, as long as the rental income will cover the mortgage. Read more about BTL age limits here.
  • Property type: Most lenders prefer borrowers with a standard property type, which basically means anything made from bricks and mortar. Buildings with non-standard features such as thatched roofs and timber frames, as well as listed buildings, are considered non-standard and therefore may require a specialist lender. Read more about non-standard construction mortgages here.
  • Whether you own property already: Some lenders require BTL borrowers to already be homeowners for a set amount of time, usually 12 months with no missed mortgage payments, while others prefer to deal with professional landlords. There are also minority who are happy to offer credit to first time buyers.
  • Income: Some lenders have a minimum income requirement of £20,000-£25,000, but others may be happy to base their decision on the strength of the investment. For applications where income is a factor, most lenders prefer it to come from secure, full-time employment, but there are specialists who are willing to offer BTL deals to self-employed borrowers, those who trade as a limited company, and those with ‘non-standard’ income, such as benefits, pensions, bonuses and commission. Rental income from BTL properties can be factored in too, and most lenders will insist that this is declared to HMRC.

You can find detailed information in our other article dedicated to buy to let lenders’ eligibility criteria.


Buy to let LTV: How much deposit do I need for a buy to let?

The minimum deposit needed for a buy to let is now just 15%, so you could get an 85% LTV mortgage under the right circumstances (suitable property and sufficient rental income required).

The LTV is the loan to value ratio, which means the size of the loan compared to the value of the property, expressed as a percentage. So, a property worth £100,000 and a loan of £75,000 = 75% LTV.

Typically, buy to let mortgage LTVs are capped at 75% with most lenders – so a deposit of 25% is required, though in certain circumstances, 80-85% deals are available. If buying a £100k property, with most lenders your deposit would need to be £25,000, but in actual fact, the advisors we work with may be able to arrange something with just £15,000.

The impact buy to let loan to value has on rates is huge, as it’s a big factor for the lenders when pricing the level of risk. A high LTV equates to higher risk of them not recouping money in the event of default, which in turn means higher rates.


Fixed vs tracker rate BTL mortgage: which should I choose?

The short answer is – there is no answer. As the market changes, nobody can predict what will happen with rates, and with the increased pressure on the economy and the effects change of parliament will have, mortgage rates could remain low for the foreseeable, or increase as house prices continue to rise.

It’s important to consider the difference in cost between the two, and decide if it’s worth paying more for a fixed rate or if you’re comfortable with the fact rates and costs may increase on a tracker.

Fixed rate buy to let mortgages

Buy to let fixed rate mortgages are currently very well priced, and often the difference between fixed and tracker rates is negligible – sometimes lenders fixed rates are even cheaper than trackers. Why, we don’t know exactly! But it’s usually something to do with the cost of borrowing to the lender, and their marketing.

For the best buy to let rates see today’s best buys here.

Buy to let tracker mortgages

When compared to fixed buy to let mortgages, trackers tend to be priced slightly cheaper because if rates and costs increase to the lender, they pass that on to the borrower, whereas for fixed rates it eats into the lenders margin.

For the best buy to let rates see today’s best buys here.


Can I get a Buy to let offset mortgage?

Yes, it may be possible. Offset mortgages are hard to come by at the moment, and with savings rates being so low many investors are taking to other means of saving than keeping their cash in the bank. However, there are a certain few lenders that offer them secured against main residential properties in the conventional sense, and one or two who offer offset accounts on buy to let properties.

Because so few lenders offer them however, the choice of product is limited and often you would do well considering the cheapest buy to let rate elsewhere, and investing your cash into accounts with the best savings rates or in secure stocks and shares.


Can I get a buy to let new build?

Yes, and there generally won’t be any differences to consider compared to a buy to let mortgage on an older property, as far as the lender is concerned.

Property type will only come into play if you’re getting a buy to let mortgage on a flat rather than a house, or if the property has elements of non-standard construction.


Can I get a buy to let mortgage on more than one property?

Absolutely, but a specialist BTL or commercial lender is often recommended for these applications. To secure a second buy to let property, though, the lender may require equity or a deposit of at least 20% to safeguard themselves against the increased risk.

If you’re a buy to let landlord with 4 properties or more on your books, you’re considered a portfolio landlord, and they require lenders who specialise in this niche sector of the market.


Can I gift a buy to let property to my child?

The short answer is ‘yes’. There are pros and cons to gifting a ‘buy to let’ property. If you decide to gift your rental property or BTL properties to one or more of your children, this could potentially be an exempt transfer as far as inheritance tax is concerned. However, there would be stamp duty to pay when your child takes over the property based on the value of the BTL loan.


What is a concessionary ‘buy to let’ mortgage?

This is when you buy a property from your parents or other family member for less than its market value. It’s important that you tell your lender that you’re borrowing for a concessionary purchase ‘buy to let’ from the word go. One of the advisors we work with can guide you on getting a BTL mortgage with the most favourable rates.


Can I get Buy to Let help?

In a word. No. The government ‘help to buy’ schemes like the ‘Help to Buy ISA’ and ‘Lifetime ISA’ are specifically designed to help people get onto the property ladder, not build rental portfolios. They have a clause that states the property ‘must not be rented out’ after you buy it. If your circumstances change (such as losing your job or being transferred overseas), you may be able to rent the property out. So essentially you cannot use a help to buy ISA for a buy to let.


Is there a ‘buy to let’ mortgage finder?

We work with the very best mortgage advisors in the industry. Each one is an expert in their field and they have access to the most up to date buy to let mortgage information. They will do everything in their power to find the best mortgage deal regardless of your circumstances, even if you have a poor credit rating, including CCJ’s, defaults, missed payments, voluntary agreements or even bankruptcy.

See our article for more information on what you should look for in a buy to let broker.


Are ‘buy to let’ mortgages more expensive?

The costs involved in ‘buy to let’ mortgages can be a little more expensive, usually about one percentage point higher, while some have higher arrangement fees. One of the expert advisors we work with can usually find the best deal for you.

  • Why are ‘buy to let’ mortgages more expensive? The costs of a ‘buy to let’ mortgage is higher because the lender sees customers who are planning to buy a property for let as more of a risk. This is because many landlords rely on the rental income to cover the mortgage, so if a tenant gets into financial difficulties and cannot pay their rent, then this in turn may cause difficulties for the landlord in meeting mortgage repayments.
  • How much more expensive is a buy to let mortgage? Many people ask how much more expensive is a ‘buy to let’ mortgage. A good rule of thumb is that a ‘buy to let’ mortgage is usually about one percentage point higher, while buy to let finance costs can include higher arrangement fees. One of the expert advisors we work with can usually find a buy to let mortgage for you.

Can you have a ‘buy to let’ AND a residential mortgage?

Yes. In fact, the BTL lending criteria at most lenders requires that you own a residential property (usually for at least 6 months, although some lenders will be happy with less) before they will accept an application for a ‘buy to let’ mortgage.


Can I get a help to buy equity loan for a buy to let?

The short answer is ‘yes’. If you have equity in your home, you can take out a second mortgage. The usual criteria apply such as income, affordability and credit history.


Can I get a fast track buy to let mortgage?

Every application is different, but the reality is that the average time from your first enquiry to completion, is somewhere around 4-6 weeks.


What are the costs associated with ‘buy to let’ and how much are they?

As a ‘buy to let’ landlord, costs are an important consideration. You’ll find there are many running costs associated with a ‘buy to let’ apart from the mortgage. There quite a few ‘buy to let’ costs to consider, including repairs, maintenance, agent’s fees and mortgage interest – As a buy to let costs guide, a study by Platinum Property Partners found that  the average costs involved with buying a ‘buy to let’ house to be around £8,359 a year.

The tables below provide a breakdown of the typical mortgage costs, ongoing expenses and legal fees that usually come with a BTL mortgage.

Typical Mortgage Costs
Broker fees This depends on the complexity of the mortgage and the type of product you are taking. For example, typical fees for secured loans / second mortgages tend to be higher than those of main residential mortgages. Some brokers charge £0, others anywhere up to 4% of the loan amount.
Lender Application/ Booking Fees Every lender deal is different. Some are fee-free and others charge non-refundable upfront fees, of say £500, for example. This allows them to only take in applications from borrowers who are more committed to proceeding.
Valuation Fees This is entirely dependant on the property value, type, location, and the product you are taking – some mortgages products offer a free basic valuation report. You will usually pay more for home buyer or full structural surveys.
Mortgage Product Fees These are dependant on the product type & property value. Some lenders charge nothing, others a fixed fee of say, £500, and others a % of the loan amount (For larger loans it can work out most cost effective to choose a product that has no fee or fixed fee).
Mortgage Exit Fees Again these are different lender to lender, and product to product. Also, if you are tied into a deal and want to leave early, there may be additional costs associated with this known as Early Repayment Charges (ERCs).

 

Legal Costs
Solicitor fees & disbursements Solicitor costs vary depending on their charging structure. Some charge fixed fees, others per hour, and some a % of the property (more rare nowadays). Occasionally lenders will offer free legals as an incentive for borrowers to take their deal.
Stamp duty For exact figures on stamp duty as at today’s rates, click here for the .gov articles

 

On-going costs
Property Maintenance From £0+ anything! (Depends on the state of the property!)
Letting Agent Fees Either a fixed fee or % of rental income. Common charges are 10% of the monthly rent (so £35pm charge on a £350pm rental).
Income Tax From £0-50% (Depends on your current income and rate of tax paid). For more info visit HMRC for help with buy to let tax.

Are there ‘buy to let’ leasehold properties?

Whilst a cheaper proposition in the short term, there are pitfalls to be aware of. Ground rent can be prohibitive and worse, the costs can spiral upward into the thousands each year and this can make it unsaleable, primarily because some lenders won’t grant mortgages for homes with high ground rent.

Bear in mind that most lenders won’t lend on a property if the lease has 60 years or less remaining, or under 40 at the completion of the mortgage term.

They generally want the lease to extend 40 or more years after your mortgage ends, as values plummet as the lease gets shorter.


Can I buy a ‘buy to let’ at auction?

Sometimes you can pick up a real bargain, but you need to do all the same checks and preparations for a buy to let at auction, as you would do as if buying any other property. You’ll need to have 10% ready at the fall of the hammer and then a set time (usually 28 days) to pay the full amount.

Failure to do so may mean you lose the house and your deposit. One of the advisors we work with will be happy to discuss the options available to you if you’re keen on buying a ‘buy to let’ house at auction.


Can I get a sitting tenant mortgage?

This is a difficult area as sitting tenants, under the Rent Act of 1977, have the legal right to remain in the property for life. Some can even pass on the right to a family member upon their death. They also have the right to a ‘fair rent’ which is often well under the market value. For this reason, lenders are reluctant to agree a mortgage as they classify them as a poor risk.


Should I purchase a ‘buy to let’ with tenants in situ?

The upside is that it could mean an income from day one; but bear in mind that you may inherit the previous landlord’s obligations.  Generally, lenders will be OK with tenants in situ if there is a proper tenancy agreement in place.


How does an assured shorthold tenancy affect a ‘buy to let’?

A landlord who has tenants under an assured shorthold tenancy has, provided sufficient notice has been given, the right to regain possession after an agreed period. This can work in your favour, because if you want to do renovations to increase the rental return, then you’ll have a set date the tenants will have to move out.


Does a second mortgage have to be for buy to let?

Not at all – these products are by no means buy to let only. You can take out a second mortgage on a property you already for a variety of purposes, from home improvements to consolidating debts. This is often known as a homeowner loan.

It is also possible to take out a second mortgage on a residential property you plan to live in part time or use as a holiday home.


What is a ‘buy to let’ stress test?

It’s simply a way that lenders assess the viability of a property you’re hoping to buy and let out. ‘Buy to let’ stress tests are a way to check that you have the ability to repay the interest on the mortgage.  For instance, if you have a £150,000 mortgage and a 5.5% interest cover rate is applied, this brings your monthly interest payments to £687.50. The equation is 150,000 x 5.5% = 8250 / 12 months = 687.50.

By factoring in the rate for the rental income of 125%, for the purposes of stress testing, this brings the real monthly costs to £859.38.  


What are ‘buy to let’ rental returns?

A simple example is that if your rental return was equal to the interest payments, then the rental coverage would be 100%.  It should be noted that most lenders prefer the rental cover to be at least 125% or higher – if that’s the case, you’ll stand a better chance of getting the best rates for buy to let finance.


How does ‘buy to let’ rent guarantee work?

A tenant who can’t or won’t pay the rent can be your worst nightmare. There are landlord insurance policies available; but be aware that these usually don’t pay out if the tenant falls into arrears, they only pay out for lost rent if the property becomes uninhabitable.

To protect against tenants defaulting, you’ll need specialist rent guarantee protection. ‘Buy to let’ rental cover usually requires certain conditions, including that the landlord has an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement in place and that the tenant has passed the appropriate credit and reference checks.


I’m an expat, could I get a ‘buy to let’ mortgage?

Yes, there are expat mortgages for buy to let properties. These are not as straightforward as a standard ‘buy to let’ mortgage, though. Some lenders offer expat ‘buy to let’ mortgages, but you’ll need to have a broker compare the market for the best deals. You best option is to talk to one of the expert advisors we work with and let them find the best expat ‘buy to let’ mortgages in the UK.


Are ‘buy to let’ mortgages available for non UK nationals (foreign nationals)?

This can be a tricky area, but it can be simplified if you talk to one of the experts we work with. As a foreign national, your buy to let options will be fewer, but by no means non-existent.

Residence is the main issue, but if you’ve been a resident in the UK for at least two years and have a work permit, then it will be relatively straightforward. If you’re an EU citizen, then lenders will have access to a credit history they can trace, so you should be able to get a buy to let mortgage just like any other UK citizen.

The good news is that you don’t actually have to be living in the UK to purchase property here. In fact, some lenders have now started to offer mortgages designed specifically as ‘buy to let’ for foreign investors, although the background checks are even more stringent.


Are there ‘buy to let’ mortgages for British expats?

If you’re living abroad and you’re looking a UK ‘buy to let’ mortgage as an expat there are a number of things you need to be aware of. EU ruling means that if you’re paid in a foreign currency, then you come under closer scrutiny if you’re looking for a ‘buy to let mortgage for expats.

There is another problem facing expats in Australia, as a treaty between the Australian and British governments essentially bans lending to each other’s residents. Such a minefield needs an expert, so you should talk to one of the advisors we work with who are highly experienced in ‘buy to let’ expat mortgages.


Can I get a Buy to let if I have bad credit?

All lenders are different and have different criteria when it comes to bad credit. Find everything you need to know about the topic here.


Is it illegal to rent a house without a buy to let mortgage?

Many people ask us questions along the lines of ‘Do you need a ‘buy to let’ mortgage to rent out your house?’ or ‘can I rent my house without a buy to let mortgage?’. While it’s not exactly illegal, it can get you into trouble with your lender if you don’t have a buy to let mortgage whilst renting the property out.

Many people find themselves ‘accidental landlords’. This may happen when someone moves in with a partner or perhaps inherits a bigger property leaving their old property with the original standard mortgage to be rented out without a buy to let mortgage. It can be solved by asking your lender for ‘consent to let’.

Many lenders may grant approval without raising the interest rate. It’s important to remember that failure to notify your lender that you’re letting out your home without a ‘buy to let’ mortgage, would be considered a breach of your contract and some could demand full and final repayment, which would be financially disastrous.


Is a joint ‘buy to let’ mortgage allowed?

Yes. Most married couples are considered to have a joint mortgage. Many lenders’ buy to let mortgage terms allow up to four applicants and sometimes more on a ‘buy to let’. You can have a joint mortgage on a ‘buy to let’ property with a parent, friends and siblings, but you need to be sure you all have the same expectations from the property.


Can I have a ‘buy to let’ in my wife’s name?

Yes, you can. There are various tax advantages to be had, especially if you are the higher earner, with a correspondingly higher tax bill. If your partner earns less, then putting the property into their name for tax purposes makes sense. We work with expert buy to let mortgage intermediaries who can advise you.  


What is ‘buy to let’ rental yield?

Put simply, it’s the amount of cash that your rental property generates, calculated as a percentage of the property’s value. This can be broken down into gross yield and net yield. It lets you see your ‘buy to let’ returns on investment at a glance.

How do you work out the yield on a buy to let?

Calculating yield on ‘buy to let’ is quite simple. Just divide the purchase price of your property with yearly rent – if we take a simple example where the purchase price is £100,000 and the rent is £200 per week, then the annual rent is £10,400 so your ‘buy to let’ property yield is 10.4%. This calculation should give you a good idea how much you’ll need coming in to finance your buy to let mortgage.

What yield should I expect from a ‘buy to let’?

There are several factors that will influence the buy to let average yield, with location and tenant demand being prime drivers. Ideally, you should look for a property that will generate a rental yield of around 8% or higher which would be a good ‘buy to let’ yield.


What is a mortgage trust ‘buy to let’?

A trust holds an asset, in this case a ‘buy to let’ property, for the benefit of another. Putting ‘buy to let property into trust can have certain tax benefits, but you should always obtain expert advice on the pros and cons of such a scheme.


What is a ‘buy to let’ with no redemption policy?

A redemption penalty is another name for early repayment charges. The idea behind a property without a redemption penalty is to allow it to be sold on quickly without incurring the early payment penalty. The downside to buying a UK buy to let property with no redemption policy is that you will pay a higher interest rate for the privilege.


What are ‘buy to let’ conveyancing fees?

These are essentially buy to let solicitors fees that cover the costs of ensuring that everything is above board. These include searches (this finds out if there any potential problems with the property you’re planning to buy for let), title deeds, transferring ownership etc.


Are there solicitor’s fees for ‘buy to let’ mortgage loans in the UK?

You can do your own conveyancing and while this can provide cheap ‘buy to let’ conveyancing, it’s inherently risky. If you’re looking at investment and ‘buy to let’ properties, solicitors fees can be worth every penny for the peace of mind they offer.  Some lenders will use the same solicitor as the buyer (as long as the practice has at least two partners) for efficiency.

You can read more about buy to let costs and fees here.


What is meant by porting a ‘buy to let’ mortgage?

This is simply the process of transferring, or ‘porting’ your existing ‘buy to let’ mortgage loan from one property to another. The advantages are that you won’t have to pay an early repayment charge and you can keep the interest rate (assuming it’s lower than current rates).

You can read more about mortgage porting here.


Want to know more about Buy to Let? Speak to one the experts today

We’ve helped over 88,000 people find the right mortgage, in fact our customers consistently rate us 5 stars on Feefo, mainly because of the level of service and the fact that we offer  OMA offers a 5-star service-, with access to leading brokers who:

  • Are industry experts – they’re OMA and LIBF Accredited
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  • Have relationships with all buy to let lenders
  • Can offer bespoke advice to BTL landlords and aspiring landlords

If you have questions and want to speak to an expert for the right advice, call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0800 304 7880 or make an enquiry here.

Then sit back and let us do all the hard work in finding the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances.  – We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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