The new tax year, starting on 6 April, could hike up some landlords’ tax bills and bring a windfall for others, with a raft of changes being introduced for the 2019-20 tax year.
As of 6 April, landlords will see mortgage interest tax relief phased down, even as higher allowances for income and capital gains kick in.
But the year ahead will also bring a number of regulatory shake-ups that could hit landlords’ bottom lines.
We explain how tax and regulatory changes could affect your buy-to-let property this year.
Buy to-let tax changes for landlords
1. Mortgage interest tax relief phased out
Up until April 2017, landlords were able to deduct the interest paid on their mortgage from their rental income, bringing down their overall tax bill.
Over the past two years, however, this has been slowly phased out. For the 2019-20 tax year, you’ll only be able to deduct 25% of your mortgage interest. And from April 2020, you won’t be able to deduct any.
Instead, the government has introduced a 20% tax credit – in 2019-20, you’ll be able to apply this to 75% of your mortgage interest.
If you’re a basic-rate taxpayer, you’ll end up in the same position. But if you’re a higher- or additional-rate payer, you’ll end up paying significantly more tax on your mortgage interest.
Find out more: mortgage interest tax relief
2. Personal allowance goes up
In a bit of good news, the personal allowance is rising in the 2019-20 tax year, from £11,850 to £12,500. This is the amount of income you can earn before paying tax, meaning you’ll be able to keep more of your profits.
As a result, the higher-rate threshold is also rising, so that you can earn £50,000 before tipping into the 40% tax bracket.
Keep in mind that if you earn more than £100,000, you’ll start to lose £1 of personal allowance for every £2 over the limit.
You can find out more in our guide to tax-free income and allowances.
3. Capital gains tax allowance rising
If you’re planning to sell one of your investment properties in the coming year, you may have to pay capital gains tax – but you’ll be able to earn more profits tax-free.
The capital gains tax allowance is going up to £12,000 in 2019-20, rising from £11,700 the year before. For assets you own jointly with your spouse or partner, you could earn up to £24,000 in profits before paying tax.
Any amounts above this will be taxed at 18% if you’re a basic-rate payer, and 28% if you’re a higher-rate payer.
4. Last year before CGT shake-up
If you lived in your property before renting it out, the capital gains tax rules are different. You can currently let it for 18 months after moving out before paying CGT on a sale. And after this 18 month period, you could benefit from up to £40,000 in lettings relief to bring down your bill.
However, this might be the last year that these rules apply. Under a change proposed at last year’s Autumn Budget, you would only have nine months CGT-free after moving out, and lettings relief would only apply to landlords who live with their tenants. These changes are still under consultation, but would take effect from 6 April 2020.
So, if you’ve considered selling your former home, it might benefit you to do it before April next year. We explain how CGT works in our guide to capital gains tax on property.
Buy-to-let regulatory changes
5. Letting fees ban
From 1 June, estate agents and landlords will be banned from charging tenants any fees in relation to lettings.
The costs will now need to be met by landlords, so your bills for signing on a new tenant could go up.
Find out more: becoming a landlord
6. Right to Rent challenged
Landlords are currently required to carry out visa checks to verify whether tenants have the right to live in the UK, a scheme known as Right to Rent.
But the High Court recently ruled that this policy breaches human rights laws. As of yet, your obligations haven’t changed – and the government intends to appeal the decision – but it could be one to watch.
7. HMO licensing
After a rule change in October last year, hundreds of thousands of landlords are now classified as owners of Home of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) – which require a license and have stricter requirements.
But to date, only a fraction of landlords have sought the proper licenses. In Bournemouth, for example, just 572 HMO licenses have been issued in the past 12 months, but the council estimates a further 2,000 properties require one.
If your property is rented to five or more unrelated people, you may now fall under the HMO scheme, so check with your local authority to avoid breaching the rules.
8. Stricter deposit rules
As of 1 April, all lettings agents will be required to join a government-approved scheme to protect client money, including tenancy deposits and rental income.
To ensure your money is being protected, make sure your agent has signed up to a scheme.
Buy-to-let and Brexit
The UK’s exit from the EU is looming on 29 March, though uncertainty reigns over Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiations with the EU and whether a deal or delay will be agreed by parliament.
While it’s unlikely that Brexit will affect the UK’s tax or property regulations, landlords may see an impact on the local property market. You can read more about the possible outcomes in our story on what Brexit will mean for house prices.