6 min Read
13 Oct 2014

Written by Liam

Over 30 years experience in financial services, residential lettings and property sales. Director of a leading national estate agency chain, until leaving in 2008 to pursue other commercial interests. Vast experience in new business development, business change, management development and business strategy.

More about Liam

Buy-to-let tips: The 8 things that can kill your buy-to-let investment

buy-to-let tipsOur expert Buy-to-let tips

Investing in buy-to-let property appears on the surface as a 'sure fire' bet. Property prices are always going up, plenty of people wanting rental properties and you can leverage your investment by using a buy-to-let mortgage. However, reality can be quite different from the rosy picture painted by your mate down the pub and parts of the media.

Here I take you through the 8 things that can kill your buy-to-let investment and provide tips on how to avoid them.

House prices crash

Now you may think that house prices are always going up but that is not always the case. Since the recession started in 2008 house prices fell pretty much everywhere and whilst in most cases prices have returned to their pre-crunch levels there are areas of the UK where prices are still struggling to catch up.

Falling house prices are a problem for anybody looking to realise their buy-to-let investment in the short term or looking to remortgage a property to raise capital for further investment.

Buy-to-let tip

A buy-to-let investment should be a long term investment where a short term dip in house prices will not be so devastating.

Rising interest rates

If you are relying on a mortgage to help finance your buy-to-let investment then a rise in interest rates can seriously affect your finances. At the present time interest rates are artificially low due to government intervention, over the long term mortgage rates have averaged around 5%, way above the current average of 2.5%. With buy-to-let mortgage rates typically higher than ordinary residential mortgage rates any increase can put a severe strain on your finances.

Buy-to-let tip

Try to limit the amount of mortgage you need and fix your mortgage so that you know your outgoings in advance.

Ongoing Expenses

Any returns on a buy-to-let investment can be seriously impacted by the running expenses of your investment. Costs such as insurance, letting agent fees, repairs and refurbishments can slowly drain away any profit if not carefully managed.

Buy-to-let tip

Before you start investing in buy-to-let property make sure you budget for all the outgoings so that you can clearly understand the full costs involved.

Rental voids

At the moment there is a good demand for rental properties but you will have to be very fortunate not to experience void periods. These periods when you have no rent paying tenants can stretch on for weeks, or longer, especially if you have repairs to carry out before the property is fit for rent.

Buy-to-let tip

Make sure you check out any prospective tenant fully and treat them well once they move in to maximise the chances of them staying long term.

Not complying with landlord legislation

There are some regulations that all landlords have to comply with when they let a property to tenants. Failure to comply with these regulation could result in a hefty fine or in severe cases imprisonment which will have a massive impact on your buy to let investment.

Buy-to-let tip

Read this to make sure you are complying with all legislation

Tenant damage

Unfortunately not every tenant will treat your property the way you would like. There are some real horror stories about tenant behaviour from mindless damage to cannabis farms resulting in hefty repair bills for the landlord.

Buy-to-let tip

Vetting all tenants carefully will not necessarily solve the problem completely but it will certainly reduce the risk.

Non paying tenants

If you have a tenant that is not paying their rent then you can have them evicted. To protect all parties there is a legal process to follow which can a number of weeks. During this processing time the tenant will be allowed to stay in the property - probably causing damage and still not paying the rent.

Buy-to-let tip

Take out rent guarantee insurance that will pay out if your tenant doesn't pay up

Neighbourhood issues

Unfortunately some areas, where there is a high number of low rent properties, can attract the wrong type of tenant. These areas can quickly become blighted with a 'ghetto' type environment making the properties harder to let and almost impossible to sell. Stories are rife where investors have bought in a respectable area only to see their investment fall in value as the area slowly declines.

Buy-to-let tip

Think carefully about the areas in which you are going to invest. Just because the property is cheap doesn't mean you should buy, think about the long term.

Further reading:

 

(image by Jeroen van Oostrom, freedigitalphotos.net)

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