Leeds Office Take-Up Remains Strong

Leeds properties

Leeds office take-up levels have remained strong in the third quarter of 2018 according to the Leeds Office Agents’ Forum (LOAF).

The Leeds’ city centre office market recorded 191,464 sq ft of take-up in the third quarter (Q3), taking the year-to-date total is 528,654 sq ft.

City centre activity across the three months from July to September was buoyed by two lettings at 3 Wellington Place, with HMRC agreeing terms on 60,000 sq ft of space and accountancy firm Mazars taking 13,000 sq ft. Of the 39 city centre transactions to complete, four were over 10,000 sq ft.

This compares to the 557,990 sq ft recorded by the end of September 2017, a total which included the 378,000 sq ft GPA deal.

The Forum expects the end of year total will be in the region of 700,000 sq ft.

Leeds Office Take-Up Remains Strong Aspen Woolf

Roddy Morrison, from Colliers International and LOAF spokesperson, said: “The positive momentum has continued in Q3 and, given the number of active occupier requirements, the Leeds office market looks set for another stellar performance.

“Leeds is one of the regional cities in the running for Channel 4’s ‘National HQ’ outside of London and, if the broadcaster decides on our city, it would further underpin the quality of offering available within Leeds and help accelerate the case for further investment and development.”

Jill Goodman, from GVA, added: “HMRC’s acquisition was a sizeable letting, in the context of Leeds market, and leaves a limited amount of standing Grade A product available in the city centre. To satisfy future occupier demand, it is critical we see a response to this continued appetite for good quality product. With only around 66,000 sq ft under construction, which has not already been prelet, the onus is on developers to address the lack of new offices coming through.”

Leeds to house 6,000 civil servants as HMRC signs latest hub deal

Leeds has largest regional economy outside London/South East

Some 6,000 civil servants are to relocate to new offices in Leeds, as HM Revenue and Customs has confirmed a 25-year lease on almost 380,000 square feet of a business park in the city centre.

The announcement of new office space in Wellington Place is part of  Cabinet Office’s controversial regional hubs plan, which saw agreements over the summer to rehouse 2,900 staff in Edinburgh and almost 4,000 in Cardiff.

The idea behind the scheme is for various government departments to share buildings in one of around 20 “strategic hubs” across the UK, to save money, boost regional growth, and encourage collaboration and flexible working practices – all hubs will be supported by smart technology and shared services.

In Leeds, NHS Digital has confirmed it will move in alongside HMRC, which will use Wellington Place as one of the 13 regional centres being opened to replace around 170 offices shutting down across the country.

Leeds to house 6,000 civil servants as HMRC signs latest hub deal Aspen Woolf

Jon Thompson, HMRC chief executive, described the Leeds announcement as “another step in HMRC’s transformation into a modern digitally advanced tax authority”.

He added: “It’s the beginning of a process that will see around 3,800 colleagues come together in state-of-the art facilities, enabling closer working relationships and increasing our effectiveness in collecting taxes.

“It will also make HMRC an important contributor to the economy and to communities in and around Leeds.”

The HMRC regional hubs scheme has also been criticised. In January, the National Audit Office found that the changes would cost 22% more than initially anticipated, while in April the Public Accounts Committee urged the tax authority to reconsider its plans, which it said would impact negatively on local employment.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive of NHS Digital – which she said is one of Leeds’ major employers – added that their involvement in the regional hub would be a significant investment boost to the city.

Caroline Nokes, minister for government resilience and efficiency, added: “The Leeds hubs will be a catalyst for growth in the surrounding cities and towns, helping rebalance the UK economy and underpin our strategy for a strong, well-connected Northern Powerhouse that can continue to provide good-quality jobs and economic growth across the region.”

Like in Edinburgh and Cardiff, staff will move to their new offices in Leeds by 2020.

In a report published last month, the Centre for Cities questioned whether relocating public sector jobs outside London would automatically stimulate local economic growth for host cities.

Paul Swinney, principal economist of the think tank Centre for Cities, wrote in Civil Service World: “Relocating public sector jobs is unlikely to do much to tackle the fundamental challenges facing the cities where growth has been stalling over the past four decades.

“If the government is to move public sector bodies out of London, it should be clear about its reasons for doing so, and set up a proper evaluation of the move

Conditioning House wins Best Apartment Development in West Yorkshire award

conditioning house bradford exterior thumbnail


The £8.5 million redevelopment scheme from the Leeds-based developer Pristley Homes, which specialises in the regeneration of historic buildings, was named the Best Apartment Development in the Yorkshire region at the recent awards. The award was presented at ceremony at the Royal Lancaster hotel in London, attended by chief executive, Nathan Priestley, and team.

Mr Priestley said: “These awards reflect the incredibly talented, hard-working teams across our development, construction and estate agency divisions. To be recognised by such a prestigious awarding body is testament to the positive, lasting impact we’re making on the region and beyond. “This year has been huge for the Priestley Group; our development pipeline surpasses £100million and we have a construction order book of more than £40million. With record turnovers expected for each of the companies in the group over the next three years, we’re well on the way to building on our successes.”

Work began last month on Conditioning House near Bradford city centre. The building has been standing empty for three decades and in May planning permission was received to redeveloped the historic building for residential and commercial use. The Cape Street building will be turned into a total of 133 one, two and three-bedroom apartments.

Conditioning House wins Best Apartment Development in West Yorkshire award Aspen Woolf

There will also be a residents’ gym and cafe, as well as 1,350 square metres of managed office space for local businesses. An 18-month programme of work has begun and is being carried out by the developer’s contracting arm, Priestley Construction. Construction will secure about 100 on-site jobs as well as supporting a further 500 jobs locally through suppliers. When planning permission was granted, Mr Priestley told the T&A: “Conditioning House has been empty for 30 years, so we’re very happy our plans to transform it into a thriving community have been approved by the council.

“Once completed, we believe the development will be one of the best Bradford has to offer, providing high quality living spaces and extra amenities that raise the benchmark for urban living. “We can’t wait to launch this development to market for locals and buy-to-let investors alike.” Conditioning House was built by the council in 1902 as a wool testing centre through a special Act of Parliament in 1887.

Almost 70 per cent of all wool produced in the UK was brought there for testing prior to use. The Priestley Group has its headquarters in Leeds and the firm launched a London office in October 2018 to support major growth plans and developments in the pipeline of more than 700 homes across 20 major schemes.


For further information on this amazing development, get in touch with the team at Aspen Woolf today!

Taxes Property Investors Need to Know About

taxes property investors should know about title image

There are many different types of taxes that property investors face, therefore it is important to be aware of them to ensure when making decisions that any tax implications are taken into consideration. With recent changes to tax relief on mortgage interest, it is even more important to ensure that your property investments are sound and your tax planning is up to speed. 

Taxes are a huge consideration when buying a property investment and it is important to be informed on the taxes involved when buying and selling properties. However, with interest rates on savings remaining incredibly low, property investment is still a great way to see a good return on your money, even with increased taxes. Your accountant or financial advisor should be able to make sure you are aware of the taxes that also come with property investment and will inform you of how much these taxes will be.

Taxes Property Investors Need to Know About Aspen Woolf

Capital gains tax

Firstly, there is capital gains tax. This is type of tax is whereby more tax is added on the profit when you sell an asset that has increased in value. In terms of property investments, capital gains have to be declared earlier than that of assets such as shares,  and property can be taxed at a higher level.

Whilst capital gains tax applies to property sales, you can benefit from Private Residence Relief on any profit if you are selling your residence, however this may not be the case if you have previously rented out your home. When selling another property, for example as a property investor, Private Residence Relief is not valid therefore capital gains tax is applicable.

When selling a property you must ensure that profit forecasts for the sale include the deduction of capital gains tax. It’s worth noting that individuals get an annual capital gains tax allowance of £11,300 (this does not apply if you choose to invest in property via a limited company).

If you are a property investor and married, do not forget your spouse is also entitled to an exemption of £11,300. Finally, in order to decrease capital gains tax you can incorporate the use of your personal pension, however there is a cap of £40,0000

Mortgage interest tax relief

Next there is mortgage interest tax relief. There is now a new rule which came into effect in April 2017. This is where private landlords who are in the higher- rate tax bracket are now not allowed to offset their mortgage interest again their rental income. Many landlords are responding to this change by increasing rent in order to make up the deficit in profit.  However, this is something to refer to your accountant or financial advisor about.

Furthermore, from 6th April 2020 tax relief for finance costs will be restricted to the basic rate of income tax. Before this it was free for property investors and landlords to be able to eliminate mortgage interest from their rental costs, this happened before working out what the tax liability was going to be. However, now this is not possible therefore it will be 20% that is restricted to the basic rate of income tax.

Taxes Property Investors Need to Know About Aspen Woolf

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a crucial factor that needs to be considered. Stamp duty is a law and needs to be paid within 30 days. If the property is valued between £125,000 and £250,000 a 5% stamp duty tax applies, between £250,000 and £925,000 it is 8%,, between  £925,000 and £1.5million you pay 10% on the portion of the sale over £925,000.01 and 12% on any remaining amount (over the £1.5m).

It is important to factor in stamp duty taxes in when investing in property.  As a property investor it’s also worth noting here that additional properties (other than the one in which you reside) are also subject to an additional SDLT cost of 3% on top of the normal rates that apply. There are exceptions to this and you can refer to the Gov.co.uk website for further clarification.

Taxes Property Investors Need to Know About Aspen Woolf

It’s of paramount importance that a property investor is aware of their financial liabilities in relation to any new investment. With recent changes to tax relief it is advisable to ensure that with those changes your investments are still profitable and to make adjustments to rents on rental properties if necessary.

In conclusion, capital gains tax and mortgage interest tax relief are factors property investors need to consider. Speaking to your financial advisor or accountant is a good way to decide what the best options are for you and your property investing business.

Should You Invest In Property Via A Limited Company?

Investment opportunities in properties look attractive in terms of higher annual return than savings accounts, and you might have considered are there any benefits if you shifted the investment to a limited company, rather than make the investment as an individual.

Should You Invest In Property Via A Limited Company? Aspen Woolf

What are the characteristics of a limited company?

Well you should think of a limited company as a distinct legal entity from its owners, and the owners are protected by limited liability up to the amount they have invested.

So, say you registered a company (this must be done at Companies House, the UK registrar of companies), with say 1 share, with a value of £1, to yourself as director and sole owner. Your limit of liability in this case would be £1. So, if the company went into debt by £100,000, you would only be liable for £1.

Is a limited company a good place for your property investment?

Any thoughts would have to be discussed with a financial specialist in this area first, but while it appears on the face of it and attractive idea, it is potentially fraught with issues, so tread carefully. Whilst every decision in terms of business can have risks, these may be outweighed by the pros to investing via a limited company, however this is dependent on what size the business is and the amount of income that is generated overall.

Should You Invest In Property Via A Limited Company? Aspen Woolf

By investing properties into a limited company, it means that the business will then have its own individual legal entity, this means that the business that is taken place is between your company (i.e. your properties) and the limited company, not dealt with you as an individual. This has its advantages and disadvantages but consult your accountant to decide whether this is good for you. On the other hand, before even considering investing in a limited company you might fall at the first hurdle, which is deciding on the company name and you need to make sure this is unique, uncommon and importantly doesn’t exist anywhere else. (Companies House will do this check for you). You will also have to check the trade mark registry as well, as you don’t want to end up with legal battles from day 1, just because you chose the wrong name!

How would the limited company operate?

If you have an existing limited company set-up already, you could use this to purchase the investment property. So rather than paying income tax at 40% or higher (assuming you are in this higher rate tax band) as an individual, for a small business with profits under £300,000 the corporation tax is currently 19% (from 1st April 2018). You could then pay yourself dividends from the limited company, but the days of tax free dividends has now almost long gone, e.g. from 6th April 2018 to 5th April 2019, the amount you can pay yourself tax free on dividends, has reduced down to just £2000. Then if you are a higher rate taxpayer, you would still have to pay tax on the difference at 32.5% (arguably this is still lower than 40% though)

What are the possible cons to investing via a limited company?

You might not actually have a limited company set up already? Whilst it is fairly easy to set one up, there are annual expenses you have to consider in running the company i.e. Company house registration and yearly declaration charges, production of the company accounts (ideally best done by a qualified accountant), indemnity insurance, your office time to manage and collate records for the accountant, business banking costs etc. The government provide easy and cheap ways to set up a limited company, however accountants can charge you for this action. Therefore, if you are thinking of investing property via a limited company it is worth researching with your accountant what are the overall profit gains for your company.

So really you need to set-up a new company for the specific purpose i.e. as property investment company and make it as clear and as transparent to the tax authorities what you are doing and why.

Also consider any Capital Gains tax advantages from which you might benefit as an individual are lost when you dispose of the property via a limited company. (Plus if you are not in the higher rate income tax bracket to start with, you are not going to benefit in any case.)

Does your limited company have any spare cash? Well if not, you would have to turn to a lender and borrow, and this is likely to cost more for a business than an individual, as some lenders are more cautious lending to businesses than individuals.

You also need to consider how the investment property is going to be used, e.g. if it’s a holiday let, and you decide to use it in quiet periods, this would be considered a benefit in kind, and guess what… more tax to pay! (P11D) In terms of student accommodation blocks, these are used most of the year, and with contracts that is what the students sign up for therefore that is what they will pay so it is not such an issue.

How long are you intending to keep the investment for? e.g. consider what you have to do to get the investment out of the company before the company is dissolved (which also incurs additional professional expertise and cost to do) i.e. you might have difficulty in extracting the cash in a tax efficient way.

The pros are that if you have multiple property investments, the benefits of reduced tax will compound, so if you keep the money in the company you might have the ability to properly offset expenses against revenue. So, for a long-term view, maybe involving any family members as company directors/shareholders, could be beneficial. In terms of investing property via a limited company it will increase the credibility of your properties e.g. if you are renting them out. This is due to the fact linking with a limited company people will assume immediately that your business has a commitment to certain performance and minimum standards will be met.

It can assume a brand identity and you will be able to link it to your own branded website and operate with branded email addresses. I.e.it gives the impression of a large professional organisation, which in reality might only be a single person working in a small office.

So, in summary, seek professional advice, before going down this route, but for a small investor it is unlikely to be a good decision. For a larger investor, who wants to build up a large property portfolio, investing via a limited company might be the direction you want your business to go, particularly as the company is separate legal entity and will continue when you die, and could be continued to operate by your chosen dependents or anyone you want. Therefore, by seeking advice from an accountant or financial advisor this will mean you will get the right advice to suit you in your situation. With each pro there is a con for investing in property via a limited company, therefore it depends on what direction you want your business to take.

For property investment advice contact Aspen Woolf

UK Property Investment Pros & Cons

calculating tax on properties

Property has long been seen as a lucrative investment, with many investors choosing to put their money in bricks and mortar as a long term retirement plan rather than traditional, riskier investments such as shares. Even with recent changes to tax laws in the UK, there are still good yields to be gained from investing in buy to let property. Overseas property investment is also another option for your investment portfolio, and with the effects of impending Brexit (whether that’s a soft-boiled/hard-boiled or a no deal scrambled mess), choosing a location outside of the UK could be a good decision. So, what are the pros and cons for UK property investment?  

Property Investment In The UK

2018 has seen US investors flocking to the United Kingdom in their droves to add UK property to their portfolios, as well as continued high levels of investment from Asia, with over £26.9bn of investment coming from overseas to the UK so far in 2018 (as of September 2018). So, what are the pros and cons of UK property investment for our investors who reside in the UK? The UK for most people is the ideal place for investments. Below are the pros and the cons of investing in the UK.


The Capital City & Beyond

London normally takes the limelight when it comes to the United Kingdom. In fact, 90% of Asian investors choose property in London. This international appeal has seen prices continue to rise in the capital and beyond. In the next couple of years, properties are expected to rise by about 56%. London is expected to bring that average down. Over the past year, prices of houses in the Midlands have risen by an all-time high. The properties that are in the North East have appreciated by as much as £10,000 since September 2016. The cities found to the North such as Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester have been producing very high yields in the recent past. Other lucrative cities to consider are  Salford where the yield inclusive of rental and capital appreciation has been at a record high of 32.3%, and Leeds. In the UK, the property market is gaining some form of balance because investors are now looking for the best yields all over the country. Other factors that investors are looking into are the market entry points as well as house price growth and this has led to spreading of investment to other cities. However, Oxford and London still remain the most expensive cities in the UK to live.

UK Property Investment Pros & Cons Aspen Woolf

Housing Shortage

The demand for housing in the UK is becoming higher than the supply at an alarming rate. Housing listings within the country are at an all-time low. This housing crisis is also contributing to growing house prices.  Would be first-time buyers are being priced out of the market, with many 18 to 34 year olds viewing renting as their only realistic option.Due to the pressure mounted on the government by different organisations, the government has vowed to build 1 million homes within the next two years. Opening up to foreign investment by the local governments will help meet the high demand. This is therefore an opportune time to invest and secure assets within the UK for both UK residents and foreign investors alike.

UK Property Investment Pros & Cons Aspen Woolf

Northern Powerhouse

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership, set up in 2016 with the objective of increasing the impact and contribution of the North of England to the UK economy, have already pushed ahead with a number of initiatives such as the High Speed 2 rail line and Square Kilometer Array. The undertaking of these projects will result in the creation of jobs as well as the spurring of economic growth. It would be a good time for individuals to take advantage of the prevailing economic conditions and invest in property.

High Speed 2 Rail

The railway line is in the UK and it links Birmingham, East Midlands and London as well as Leeds and Manchester. This will be the second railway line of its kind in the country and will cost a whopping £55.7bn. The concept of the rail line is to connect all the major cities and served by one city center station. By 2033 all the cities will have their own city center station. The network will enhance the travel between different major cities by reducing the time required to move from one place to the other. The railway line will bring continued growth as well as open new opportunities in the country. There is an anticipated growth of £3m for each region making it an essential project to the growth of the country as a whole. Many businesses are already looking to take themselves out of London (for example, HSBC announced they would move 1000 jobs to Birmingham from London). The completion date for HS2 is still not set in stone but you can take advantage of this knowledge now to make a sound investment in the North that will certainly see growth once the line is in operation.


Buy To Let Taxation

The ability to offset mortgage interest against profits is now being phased out in the UK, with the changes to be in effect in full by the end of 2020. This could potentially result in landlords paying tax on non existent profits. It is essential that you take proper financial advice from whomever deals with your taxes to ensure your investments are efficient.

UK Property Investment Pros & Cons Aspen Woolf 

Ongoing Risk and Personal  Investment

Investing in property can be an ongoing financial liability. As a buy to let landlord, for example, there are issues such as property maintenance, administration and advertising between each tenant, as well as the risk of having a vacant property. These issues can be combated by taking appropriate advice, and using an agent to assist you.

All investments carry some level of risk. However, choosing a UK property investment in today’s economic climate is, on balance, a smart financial move given that many of the cons can be mitigated with the appropriate planning. Speak to one of our team who can advise you further.


Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part Four

Buy To Let Guide part 4 Aspen Woolf

This is part four of a four-part series, forming the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let. Click here to read part three which looks at the benefits and costs of using an agent, as well as the tax considerations when investing in a buy to let property.

Do I want Capital Growth? Or Good Rental Returns?

This is a question many investors will be asking themselves when considering how best to invest their capital. In an ideal world you would be able to see your investment provide you with both. It would bring you a steady income in the short term, but also increase in value over time. It is perfectly possible to find properties like these but it is not easy.

Both of these options do come with some disadvantages to consider. Capital growth can be affected by a downturn in the economy that affects property prices and interest rates. New government legislation for private landlords is also affecting rental yields negatively in some areas.

Due to the current economy, many young first time buyers are being pushed into the rental market meaning there is no shortage of tenants looking for properties. This lowers the chance of properties being left vacant for long periods (while while still accruing mortgage payments and service charges).

As mentioned previously, the cities of The North are offering some of the best options for either type of investments. House prices are steadily rising and predicted to continue and some areas in those cities offer the highest percentage rental yields in the country.

Like most decisions in this process, a lot depends on your personal goals and expectations. Is your investment short or long term? If you’re looking to invest long term then your ultimate goal will be capital growth. Long term investments are less likely to be affected by a fluctuating market or temporary environmental factors. However if you’re only looking to invest in the short term then focus on getting good rental yields as you start to see those returns much quicker.

Buy-To-Let Tips

There are no guarantees when it comes to any type of investment, including buy-to-let. However if you get it right, regular rental income can give your finances a valuable boost and help give you long term financial security. For those interested in entering the market, here are our top tips to help get you started:

  • Be sensible with how you borrow money. Always prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. You need to remember that property can lose value as well as gaining it.
  • Look for an area with a high number of young professionals. They make up the biggest portion of the rental market. Areas with local investment schemes that are creating jobs and boosting the local economy are also beneficial. To help with this, use the Office Of National Statistics.
  • Locations with universities and a high student population are also favourable. You have a guaranteed influx of new students coming to the area every year, all looking for properties to rent.
  • Always make sure your property is maintained as well as it can be. Ensure all appliances are modern and in full working order. If you have suitable spare rooms, consider turning them into other bedrooms. This can give a boost to your earnings.
  • If buying further afield it is always advisable to employ the services of a lettings agent. This is especially important if you don’t have much spare time and there are a lot of unfamiliar regulations to contend with.
  • Be friendly and approachable to your tenants. If they have a good experience they are more likely to fulfil their responsibilities and hopefully extend their contract, keeping your property occupied and generating rental income.
  • Make sure to obtain the best insurance for your personal requirements. Also ensure that you keep records of everything. This will help you stay on top of things like collecting rent, mortgage payment and any fees that you incur. Keeping meticulous records will help you with financial forecasts and also calculating tax.
  • Always seek professional advice. Too much knowledge is never a bad thing, so make enquiries with lettings agents and tax advisors. A little bit of effort in doing your homework now can save a lot of money in the long run.

Analysis Of The Housing Market

House prices are still rising throughout the UK, although at a slower rate than in 2017. It is expected that we will continue to see the biggest increases in areas outside London.

Many people are still concerned following the post-Brexit financial forecast, however the facts of the matter are that the housing market seems to be more stable than the worst of the predictions showed. It is always worth remembering that despite a potentially turbulent economy, people will always need somewhere to live. Combine this fact with certain areas showing that housing is in low supply and you can’t deny that there will always be great investment opportunities for the conscientious investor.

The areas showing the most promise continue to be in the north of the country. With news of the government’s Northern Powerhouse Agenda, local investment is pouring into the large Northern cities, creating a thriving economy. Local investment means more jobs, which in turn leads to high numbers of young professionals looking for new opportunities.

With many great universities in The North, we will continue to see a huge influx of students, many of whom will choose to stay in the area thanks to the aforementioned increases in employment opportunities. Seeing where the government has shown confidence in, is something that all investors, including those looking for buy-to-let properties, need to take advantage of.

Property Hotspots for 2018

As previously mentioned, many of the top locations for people looking for a buy-to-let investment are in the north of England. Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and the surrounding areas continue to offer great rental yields while having property prices far lower than their southern counterparts.

Since Liverpool was announced Europe’s Centre For Culture in 2008 it has seen billions worth of investment, making it a vibrant and thriving community, brimming with opportunities. Leeds is another successful city, boasting the largest regional economy outside of London and the South East with a GVA of £60.5 billion.

Due to rising house prices, young professionals are struggling to get on the residential property ladder. This is leading to a boost in the rental market which looks to continue for the foreseeable future. As well as the northern cities already mentioned there are others to consider such as Gateshead, Manchester, Huddersfield and Derby.

Something that unites all these northern cities is an abundance of universities. This means plenty of students looking for somewhere to rent. Many students favour purpose built accommodation these days, including wealthy, foreign students. With plenty of high quality student accommodation available in these northern areas, you can be sure of a sound investment with a steady stream of potential tenants. By using the services of Aspen Woolf, all the potential stresses of student letting can be taken care of your behalf. This leaves you to relax and enjoy a boost to your finances, with rental yields to the tune of up to 13%.

Stamp Duty Case Study

Average House Price£165,838.00£692,660.00
Stamp Duty Payable£8291.90  (5%)£55,412.80    (8%)
Total Cost Of Purchase£174,129.90£748,072.80
By investing in Liverpool you can save an average of £47,120.90 in stamp duty fees compared to London with an overall saving of £573,942.90


Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part Three

Aspen Woolf Ultimate Buy To Let Guide

This is part three of a four-part series, forming the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let. Click here to read part two which discusses property types, as well as your responsibilities as a landlord.

Should I Use An Agent? How Much Will It Cost?

While using a letting agent isn’t essential, it is certainly recommended. They will take on most of the potential stresses and strains that can come with owning an investment property. They will advertise your property for you and find prospective tenants. They also make sure tenants are vetted properly with suitable referencing services. They can do credit checks, collect deposits and also draw up tenancy agreements making sure that both you and the tenant are covered legally. You can also have them collect rent payments on your behalf, chase up late payments and pursue any legal action that may be required.

If you do decide to manage your property with a letting agent then Aspen Woolf can provide an excellent, professional service that will cater for all your needs. Whether you just want someone to find a tenant and set up the original letting agreement, or if you want an ongoing service, Aspen Woolf’s dedicated team is here to help. They can take the hard work out of running your own property and provide your tenants with a professional service.

Their fees vary depending on the type of service you require as well as the type and size of the property. A one off “let only” type of service will cost in the region of two to four week’s worth of rent, whereas a full management service may cost around 10-15% of your expected monthly income.

While all letting agents are required to publish details of all their fees and charges, it is always worth checking the small print. Aspen Woolf ensure that all fees are disclosed upfront so there is no need to worry about any hidden charges. It is worth noting that when your agreement comes to an end, you are free to negotiate the deal or choose another provider if you wish.

Buy-To-Let Tax Implications

Whenever buying a property in the UK you will incur tax charges. The most notable of these is Stamp Duty. Below are details of the current rates for Stamp Duty Land Tax Charges in England and Northern Island for the tax year 2017/2018. Please check with a tax advisor for confirmation of local rates if outside this area or for subsequent tax years.

Property ValueSDLT Rate
£0 – £125,0003%
£125,001 – £250,0005%
£250,001 – £925,0008%
£925,001 – £1.5 million13%
£1.5 million +15%


Your rental income from a buy-to-let property is tax deductible, therefore it must be declared on your self assessment tax returns. This will be charged in line with your income tax band (20% for basic rate, 40% for higher rate and 45% for additional rate). You will be able to claim back for various expenses such as property repairs and maintenance which can help bring you overall tax bill down.

If you sell your property for more than you paid for it, after you have paid all stamp duty and solicitor’s fees etc, then you have sold it at a profit and will be liable for Capital Gains Tax. You will get an individual allowance of £11,300 to off set against any gains you may have. You will pay tax of either 18% or 28% of any amount above the individual allowance, dependant on any income or other capital gains you may have.

NB: Figures are correct as of tax year 2017/2018. Always speak to a tax advisor regarding any issues relating to tax charges.

How To Cope With Losing Buy-To-Let Tax Relief

Due to the recent economic climate, the government has been put under immense pressure to try and alleviate the dominance of landlords in the rental sector. One of their main responses to this that affects landlords directly is reducing mortgage interest tax relief.

As of this year (2017/2018) they have applied rules which mean that landlords in the higher tax brackets will only be able to claim tax relief at the basic rate of 20%. These rules will be phased in over the next few years and will be fully phased in by 2021.

The former “Wear and Tear” allowance is being replaced by a system whereby tax relief can only be claimed when furnishings are fully replaced.

One way to cope with these additional pressures is to place your property portfolio in a limited company. This course of action is becoming increasingly popular because any interest is then classed as a business expense. This means it is fully deductible against any income you may have and with corporation tax being reduced to 17% in 2020 these actions are only looking to get more popular with property investors.

Whether or not this approach will be suitable for you depends on a number of factors. Individual circumstances such as how many properties you own and how long you plan to keep them for will all affect the outcome. If you withdraw any money from a limited company for personal use you will also be hit by tax deductions.

There are other possible options available, such as switching to a shorter fixed-rate mortgage as these offer a lower rate of interest. You could even transfer your property’s ownership to a spouse or partner who is in a lower tax band.

To decide which course of action will be best for you, it is always best to seek advice from a qualified tax advisor. Obtaining advice will always make sure you stay within legal guidelines while also remaining as tax efficient as possible.

Buy-To-Let As A Retirement Option – How Does It Stack Up Against A Pension?

As with many things, this really depends on your personal circumstances. In fact, there is no reason why you even have to pick one over the other. If you can find a way to combine the two, you could be setting yourself up for a lucrative retirement, making buy-to-let investment popular with older investors in particular.

Thanks to new pension rules, people over the age of 55 have more freedom to withdraw funds at their own convenience. If you have a buy-to-let investment already in place by retirement, this ability to release funds can be a real bonus. It can help see you through periods when your property is vacant and even help with renovation or refurbishment of your property. Another plus is the ability to lessen the tax burdens of your property.

Pensions do come with tax burdens of their own, especially if you are looking to withdraw the whole amount as a lump sum. A less than stable economic climate means that the government could possibly change the pension rules at any time which can have an effect on your security long term.

This potential for insecurity means that buy-to-let investments remain popular. It is not advisable to cash in your entire pension to buy an investment property, but rather access funds that can help to renovate and improve an already established property and hopefully acquire greater rental yields and a better quality of tenant.

Click here to read part four of the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let for some great tips, UK buy to let hotspots, and advice on what your goal should be – good rental returns or capital growth.

Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part Two

Aspen Woolf Buy To Let Guide

This is part two of a four-part series, forming the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let. Click here to read part one which explains buy to let mortgages and accompanying fees.

What Type Of Property Should I Buy?

Usually when you are looking to buy a property, you are looking for your ideal home. Somewhere that you want to live yourself, which suits all your personal requirements. The same can’t be said when looking for a buy-to-let property. This takes some “outside the box” thinking because you are not looking for something desirable to you, you are looking for something that best serves your preferred choice of tenant.

Spend some time thinking about who you want to let your property to and then align your search with their prospective wants and needs. It may be that you can find something suitable that is local to you, but then there are a great many of investment opportunities all around the UK and beyond, so it is worth checking out the current “buy-to-let hotspots” if you want to look further afield. There is a wealth of information about what areas are delivering great returns, so make sure you take some time over your decision. Speaking to an advisor with expertise in this area is always a plus when it comes to starting your search for that perfect property.

A choice that remains popular with investors is that of student properties. Choosing a location that is in close proximity to universities and transport links will all but guarantee a steady supply of tenants looking for rental properties. Some landlords may have concerns about the unreliability of young student tenants, unpaid rent or possible damage to the property. For this reason, purpose built student accommodation that is managed by a lettings agent is becoming more and more popular. The drawbacks of the student market are mostly dealt with by the agents who will ensure there are suitable deposits in place, as well as guarantors if necessary. They will also be able to vet potential tenants using referencing services which can lessen the chances of having to deal with problem tenants.

Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part Two Aspen Woolf

It may be a cliché but there is so much truth in the old adage “Location, location, location”. The location of your property is the single most important thing to consider. It is best to choose a town or city with a thriving economy, vibrant local culture and excellent travel links to major destinations. A strong and stable economy means plentiful jobs, which attracts many professionals looking for work and a place to live. These place will see house prices rising which is only ever good news for property investors.

Locations with house prices that are below the national average but expected to rise are another excellent choice. One such area of the UK is The North. With many cities benefiting from increased investment and development due to the Northern Powerhouse Agenda, there are some fantastic locations for investors looking to buy. Some examples to consider are Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester and Gateshead.

There are few restrictions on the types of properties you can invest in so it is best to ensure you explore all avenues to see just how many interesting opportunities there are available for the right investor.

Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part Two Aspen Woolf

What Are My Responsibilities As A Landlord?

When you become a landlord, you take on many legal obligations and responsibilities. From ensuring the habitability of the property to making sure it conforms to regulations, there’s a lot to remember. Here is an overview of your different responsibilities:

  • You must make sure all tenants have a Right Of Residence allowing them to rent property in the UK.
  • Ensure the building is habitable and free from health hazards. There must be no structural, insulation, air quality or asbestos problems, with appropriate certification if required.
  • All gas and electric installations must be completed to British safety standards. You must obtain an Energy Performance Certificate as proof of this. These need to be renewed after a set time so always make sure the one you have is currently valid.
  • Fire precautions are extremely important. There must be adequate fire alarms and clear escape routes.
  • Always supply your new tenant with an up to date inventory and any rules you may have clearly laid out for them. All landlords worry about bad tenants or damage to their property. Making sure you make tenants aware of their responsibilities can help to lessen these worries and hopefully build a good tenant/landlord relationship. You could even supply them with a copy of the government’s “How To Rent” guide, to make sure they know everything that is expected of them as tenants.
  • If the tenant makes you aware of a problem that is your responsibility, make sure you take care of it as quickly as possible. This is especially important when it comes to problems with the electrics of gas installations. In case of an accident you could be charged with negligence and receive a criminal conviction.

Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part Two Aspen Woolf

What Is Buy-To-Let Insurance?

Buy-To-Let insurance is also called Landlord’s insurance, and it is different from normal household insurance due to the added risk of a third party (i.e. your tenant). For this reason it is likely to be more expensive.

Most typical insurance plans will include damage against fire, flooding or any structural damage. Different types of properties will have different needs so make sure you shop around with different insurance providers to find one that is most suitable. Some plans may have special offers or add-ons that would suit your property better than others.

Some possible extra policies include landlord liability insurance, which will provide cover if a tenant is injured in your property and holds you responsible. You can also get rent guarantee insurance, and cover to help with legal costs should you ever have to deal with a tenancy agreement dispute in court.

Contents insurance is something else to consider. This covers damage to any items within the property such as furniture and electric appliances. If you are letting out an unfurnished property then it is likely the tenant will take out their own policy as they will be the owners of anything that needs to be covered. However if you are looking to rent out a furnished property then it is important to investigate options for your own cover. As with landlord’s insurance, rates may vary from personal contents insurance due to third party risk.

Click here to read part three of the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let which looks at the benefits and costs of using an agent, as well as the tax considerations when investing in a buy to let property.

Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part One

Aspen Woolf Buy To Let Guide part one

This is part one of a four-part series, forming the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let.

Buying a property with the sole intention of letting it out is referred to as “Buy-To-Let”. It is becoming an increasingly popular investment for people in the UK; with the cost of houses continuing to rise, many people are priced out of the property market, meaning that more and more are looking to rent. This increased demand means that the Buy-To-Let market is booming and attracting many investors, from those looking to expand their property portfolios, to those looking for a retirement investment.

The most recent figures suggest there are currently approximately two million private landlords who own five million private properties in the UK. The market generates an estimated £15 billion in revenue each year, so it’s easy to see why so many people are looking for a piece of the action.

With this type of investment, you are looking for a property which gives you capital growth and also a good rental income along the way. It is easy to look at the success of the market and get carried away thinking it is easy money. You can’t just purchase any property and sit there expecting the money to come rolling in. There are many pitfalls and variables to consider if you want to be successful.

The best place to go for advice is a professional lettings agent. They can explain the importance to property location, quality of tenant, tax implications and external market factors and how these can affect your investment.

Aspen Woolf is the perfect company to help you through this decision and make sure that your investment works for you. They have the knowledge required of the market conditions and demand to guarantee high yields for new or experienced investors.

Whether you are a first time investor who is looking for advice, or someone who is looking to expand your portfolio, here is a detailed guide of the UK Buy To Let sector for 2018.

Ultimate Guide To Buy To Let: Part One Aspen Woolf

What Is A Buy To Let Mortgage?

Unless you have the capital to buy a property outright, you will need a Buy-To-Let mortgage to be able to acquire a property. This type of mortgage is different from a standard residential mortgage in a few ways. Due to the increased risk of involving a third party (namely the tenant) they are harder to obtain and usually have higher interest rates.

In order to obtain a Buy-To-Let Mortgage, you must meet a number of requirements. Usually you must be over the age of 25 and must have an income of around £25,000 or more. Most lenders will only consider an application if the rental income is in excess of 125% of the mortgage repayments. For example if your annual mortgage repayment is £20,000, you will need to have a rental income of at least £25,000. This is called Rent To Interest (RTI).

It is worth remembering that the larger the deposit you’re able to offer, the more favourable the interest rate you are likely to receive. You can expect to put down around 25% as a deposit, although to get the best rates most lenders will expect at least 40%.

There are a number of ways to obtain a Buy-To-Let mortgage, from high street lenders and banks, online providers. It is important to shop around to be able to take advantage of the best possible rates. There are many different types to consider including fixed, capped, variable and tracker-rate mortgages.

Loan Fees Explained: What And How Much?

Whenever you are applying for a buy-to-let mortgage, there will always be certain fees and charges that will be incurred. It is crucial that you shop around when looking for a mortgage as these charges may vary from lender to lender and need to be factored in when considering the best deal. A good interest rate can be negated by these fees if you’re not careful, so make sure you look at the whole picture before committing to a specific mortgage deal.

Here we look at the main charges that most mortgage applications will include (fees may vary).

Booking Fee – This is fee is non-refundable and is usually charged while your application is still pending. This charge allows the lender to reserve your funds and is not refunded should the application fall through. Typically a booking fee is around £100.

Arrangement Fee – The arrangement fee is required by the lender in order to set up the mortgage on your behalf. It is a more substantial fee than the booking fee but can be added to the mortgage total in some cases if preferred. The fee is required before the start of the contract however it is refundable should the application fall through for any reason. A typical arrangement fee will be from around £1,000 to £2,000.

Valuation Fee – Before any lender will agree to a mortgage they will want to carry out their own inspection and valuation of the property. In order to do this, they charge a Valuation Fee. This varies according to the size and age of the property from around £300 to over £1,000. If the property is over a certain age or size it may require a more in depth survey including looking at its structural integrity. This is referred to as a “Homebuyer’s Survey” and may incur extra expenses.

Legal Fee – Just like a residential mortgage, you will need to pay fees to ensure everything is in order from a legal standpoint. Charges that could be incurred here include stamp duty, land registry and search fees, and will vary from property to property.

The amounts quoted here are intended as a rough guide and will vary from lender to lender. Always ensure you seek proper advice from a qualified professional before committing to any type of deal. It is worth noting that some lenders also require an exit/closure fee of up to £300 once the mortgage is fully repaid. A good mortgage advisor is invaluable and will help you make sure you find the best deal.

Click here to read part two of the Ultimate Guide to Buy to Let, which discusses property types, as well as your responsibilities as a landlord.