Having just won a legal case against West Brom Mortgage Company, landlord Emma Hughes explains how the buy-to-let property market isn’t all roses.
Landlords in the UK have a certain reputation and face a lot of hostility, especially from people trying to get onto the property ladder. I’m a landlady. Let me make that clear from the start. Now please put all your preconceptions about me to one side while you read my story.
My husband and I own fifteen properties. They all have sizeable mortgages. Most properties were bought for around £50-£70,000. That is the price of small houses in Huddersfield and the rents are between £340 and £540 per calendar month. Factor in buying costs, renovation, insurance, repairs, mortgage payments, gas and electric checks.
You see where I’m going here… the financial returns are small. We raise money for deposits by saving carefully. No fancy holidays, no new cars, and local state schools for the kids.
Impact of higher rates
Now factor in lenders like the West Bromwich Mortgage Company, Bank of Ireland and the Skipton Building Society increasing the rates on some of their buy-to-let, interest-only, base-rate tracker products arbitrarily, even though they were supposed to track the Bank of England base rate, at 0.5% since 2009.
Some of our mortgage payments went from £150 to £300 overnight. My husband and I, along with 300 members of landlord advice site Property118.com, took the West Brom to court, as we felt bullied by the provider.
We’ve just won at the Court of Appeal after a three-year battle. Brilliant.
But being a landlord feels like a constant battle, we’re now dealing with 3% extra stamp duty if we buy another buy-to-let property, and tax relief on interest has been cut. Yet there’s still a lack of affordable housing in Britain.
My tenants are usually young, out of work or in low-paid jobs, and cannot even begin to consider buying a house… in fact I find they want to rent. Does that statement make you angry? If so, why? I live in a rented property, because it suits my family.
The landlord provides a service
Being a landlord means I am part of the service industry. The flexible working hours have allowed me to be there as my kids have grown. I go to my tenants’ houses when they have moved on and repaint, clean the loo, make the oven sparkle. I chat regularly with my tenants. They often can’t pay for a month or two, so I wait patiently for the rent.
Fifteen families rely on me and I take that responsibility seriously. I am not an ogre, just a normal mum, doing a job.
This is a guest post by Emma Hughes, a private landlord from Huddersfield. All opinions are Emma’s own, not necessarily those of Which?