Buy-to-let mortgage lending has risen sharply following the announcement in November last year concerning a rise in stamp duty. The rise will come into force in April 2016, and the intervening months look set to see many landlords rush to complete new purchases in order to avoid paying the additional duty.
The Residential Lettings Association (RLA) has conducted a survey among landlords, which revealed nearly half (46%) were in the process of attempting to complete new purchases before the deadline. This contributed to an increase in buy-to-let lending in November 2015 of 35% – a little over a third – compared with the same period the year before. The total value of loans granted in the sector has also gone up year-on-year. It reached £3.5 billion in November 2015 – a 46% increase compared with the same period in 2014.
How will stamp duty increase?
If you purchase a buy-to-let property from April this year, you’ll be likely to pay an additional 3% on the current rate of stamp duty applicable to that property. At present, properties sold for this purpose for less than £125,000 do not attract stamp duty at all. From April, they will attract a 3% stamp duty payment.
Similarly, properties costing between £125,000 and £250,000 currently attract a stamp duty payment of 2% of the purchase price. This will then more than double to 5% following the rule change. Properties worth between £250,000 and £925,000 will see the stamp duty percentage increase from 5% to 8%.
This means cheaper properties will experience a higher pro-rata increase in stamp duty than more expensive ones. Someone buying a £150,000 property on a buy-to-let basis at the moment would pay £500. From April, this will increase to £5,000 – a massive £4,500 difference, or ten times as much as the landlord would have paid before.
However, the increases will still amount to several thousand pounds on a variety of other properties too. A £350,000 property purchase will currently attract a stamp duty payment of £7,500. Fast-forward to April and that will increase to £18,000 – a significant difference.
Will we see a drop in landlords after April?
It’s certainly possible. The RLA discovered 10% of landlords were planning to quit the buy-to-let market altogether. A further third of those questioned (33%) are considering settling with their current portfolio and not buying any further properties.
The big question isn’t whether buy-to-let mortgage lending will drop come April – it is how much it will drop by. Given the statistics and the surveys that have already come to light, it seems clear that landlords are rushing to try and get through the closing door before it shuts completely.
George Osborne brought in the change to try and help free up properties for families and other individuals who wanted to buy a home instead of renting. Landlords are clearly disgruntled at the rise, hence the rush to complete sales before the door closes on the chance to expand their portfolios without paying the increased stamp duty amount.