The number of buy-to-let mortgages issued in the 12 months to February this year was the highest figure since 2016, UK Finance data shows.
The total was 275,600, which included 159,100 re-mortgages as landlords committed to a sector that many have left due to increased taxes and red tape in recent years. Meanwhile, 110,000 new buy-to-let mortgages were issued in the year to February as landlords took advantage of the stamp duty holiday. This compared to a figure of 75,800 in the 12 months to February 2020.
Ahead of the introduction of a 3% stamp duty surcharge for landlords in April 2016, there was a spike in activity in the buy-to-let sector. Since then, demand has been in decline due to higher costs and fewer tax breaks as the government introduced measures that have attempted to tackle the issue of housing affordability.
“The extent of the recent rent rises has started to compensate for some of the regulatory changes of the last few years,” said Andrew Groocock, regional head of sales for Knight Frank’s City, East and North region in London. “It’s increasingly driving activity in London’s apartment market.”
Meanwhile, property yields have looked attractive in recent years with interest rates at rock bottom and the strong fundamentals of a growing and undersupplied rental market in the UK are attracting a growing amount of institutional capital.
More than £1.4bn worth of deals were agreed in the final three months of 2021 in the build-to-rent sector, pushing year-end investment volumes to a record £4.3bn. Annual spend was up 19% on 2020, the previous record year. Deal volumes were also up by nearly a third year-on-year.
Knight Frank forecast that rental values will increase by 17.1% over the next five years in the UK, as the lettings market is underpinned by these strong fundamentals. The equivalent figure is 22.7% in prime central London and 19.3% in prime outer London.
Underlining the strength of demand, the number of international corporate relocation enquires received by Knight Frank from prospective tenants in March reached its highest level since August 2019.
“Demand is hard to satisfy at the moment and it will only grow as summer approaches,” said John Humphris, head of relocation and corporate services at Knight Frank. “If you own a good property at the moment, the chances are that it will be let before it even comes to the market.”