When you buy an investment property, you’ll need a special type of mortgage to fund the purchase. Buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages are for those who are looking to buy a property and then rent it out, rather than live in it. Here’s a handy guide.
What is a buy-to-let mortgage?
If you plan to buy a property with the intention of renting it out, most lenders won’t allow you to do so through a standard residential mortgage. A buy-to-let mortgage is specifically for people who plan to invest in property and become a landlord.
How do buy-to-let mortgages work?
There are some key differences between this type of mortgages and standard residential ones:
- In most cases, this type of mortgage is interest-only
- This means for each month of the mortgage term, you’ll only pay the interest on the loan – none of the capital
- This can either be fixed or variable rate
- In the short-term, this means your monthly repayments will be less than with other mortgages, however, at the end of the mortgage term, you’ll need to pay the loan back in full (or refinance)
- Your capital debt (how much you’ve borrowed) will not go down unless you choose to make extra payments, or take out a repayment mortgage
- This capital debt will be paid back at the end of an agreed term
- Repayment mortgages are an alternative, however most BTL borrowers opt for an interest-only mortgage, to keep monthly repayments down
- Interest rates are usually higher
- Most BTL mortgage lending is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- Arrangement fees can be higher
How much can you borrow?
Much like getting a mortgage in the traditional way, how much you can borrow depends on your income, personal circumstances, credit score and overall affordability.
However, what’s different is that the maximum amount you can borrow depends on the amount of rental income you can expect to receive.
Usually, mortgage lenders require this be 25–30% higher than your mortgage payment. A good way of judging this can be speaking to local letting agents, or looking at portals to see how much similar properties in the area are renting for.
How much deposit do you need?
Minimum deposit is usually 25%, though it can be more, due to the higher risk involved. Buy-to-let mortgages are considered higher risk because some landlords can face problems with rent collection, or periods where the property is empty between tenancies, for example.
The best BTL mortgage deals are usually for those with a 40% deposit or higher. Therefore, it’s recommended you save as high a deposit as you can.
Before the pandemic, some lenders allowed for as a low as 15%, however these may now be much less available.
Where can you get a buy-to-let mortgage?
Most big banks and specialist lenders will offer BTL mortgages. It’s always advisable to speak to a mortgage adviser before going any further to see what options are available to you. Finding the right deal is key.
Can you afford it?
There are a number of costs involved with buy-to-let properties and their mortgages. Making money from property usually involves a large financial outlay. It’s important to be aware of this early on, so here’s some property investment advice:
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
Capital Gains Tax is a tax on the profit when you sell an asset that’s increased in value. It’s the gain you make that’s taxed, not the amount of money you receive. Some assets are tax-free.
You may have to pay Capital Gains Tax if you make a profit when you sell property that’s not your home, including buy-to-let properties.
The amount you pay will depend on the rate of tax you pay and how much higher your profit is than the annual tax-free threshold of £12,000. Couples can combine this allowance, potentially allowing for £24,000.
You can reduce your CGT bill by offsetting costs. This includes stamp duty, solicitor fees, estate agent fees, or any losses made on a sale of a buy-to-let property in a previous tax year. To do this, deduct these from any capital gain.
Any rent received is classed as income and is therefore liable for income tax, which must be declared on your self assessment tax return on the year it was earned in. This might be taxed at 20%, 40% or 45%, depending on your overall annual earnings.
Certain expenses can be used to offset rental income, including council tax and property maintenance. There is full guidance on what the allowances are when you come to submit your self assessment tax return.
Mortgage tax relief
As of April 2020, most landlords will have seen their tax bills rise, as the way to deduct mortgage expenses (tax relief) from rental income to reduce tax bills changed.
It is still possible to offset a proportion of the cost of mortgage interest against the rental income, but at a reduced level. 100% of interest payments are eligible for 20% tax credit.
While you may not need to take out contents insurance (depending on whether your property is furnished or unfurnished), you will need buildings insurance. Need help finding a good deal? Get a home insurance quote below.
This provides protection for landlords renting a property to tenants. It’s not the same as home insurance for residential properties, as it covers additional associated risks of renting. This could be loss of rent or accidental damage, for example.
If you’re a property investment beginner, it’s important to prepare for the fact your property may not always have tenants in it. ‘Void’ periods are where there’s no rent coming in. So, to keep up with mortgage payments, you’ll need to have financial plans in place to ensure you’re covered.
Repaying the mortgage
It’s always best to play it safe. Don’t assume you can rely solely on selling the property to repay the mortgage in full. If house prices go down, you’ll have to make up the difference, so think ahead and ensure you’ve got back-up funds should anything not go to plan.
Of course, the other associated costs with buying a house still apply, including:
- Stamp duty
- In fact, you’ll have to pay an extra 3% on top of the standard stamp duty tax when buying any buy-to-let property above £40,000
- Mortgage arrangement fees
- Property maintenance
- Surveyors fees
Other optional costs:
- Letting agent fees
- Rent insurance
Can I get a normal mortgage and rent it out?
You’d need consent from your mortgage lender to rent out your home on a residential mortgage. Many people choose to rent out their homes if they can’t (or don’t want to) sell up.
Your mortgage lender may charge you a fee to give you consent, and they’re not obligated to say yes.
Is it difficult to get a buy-to-let mortgage?
It can be, as you’ll likely need a bigger deposit. Also it depends on your circumstances and how complicated the lending is. Lenders will also expect you to be earning a certain amount of money a year to be a landlord (this can vary lender to lender), so always seek advice.
How much interest will I pay?
This will depend on many factors, including:
- The amount you borrow
- Forecast rental income
- Your financial situation
- The type of mortgage you take out
What’s the difference between a buy-to-let mortgage and a residential mortgage?
- Usually on an interest-only basis
- You’ll need a higher deposit than for a residential mortgage
- You’ll likely face higher upfront fees (e.g. mortgage arrangement costs)
- Some mortgage providers see them as higher risk (because of void rental periods or risk of damages)
Need a mortgage adviser?
If you’re considering buying a buy-to-let property, speak to a mortgage adviser early on to see what options are available and find the best deal for you. We can connect you with a member of our approved panel.
Get a mortgage quote for free below.