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9 Jun 2018

Holiday lets: where can you get the best buy-to-let yields?

Discover how to get a mortgage on a holiday let

Holiday lets in the UK are becoming increasingly popular, with many areas offering good yields for landlords considering a move away from residential buy-to-let.

As with any more niche investment, however, there are specific rules around taxation - and you might find it harder to get a mortgage.

Here, we take a look at a report that shows the areas with the best holiday let yields, and offer advice on the financial side of buying a holiday home as an investment.

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Cheaper areas enjoying bigger yields

According to new research from Second Estates, Wales (11.7%) and Northumberland (11.5%) are the areas where holiday homes enjoyed the best yields in the last 12 months.

The report shows that while the national average is a little over 10%, higher yields of 14% could be forthcoming between 2018 and 2022, so there could be good news around the corner for long-term investors.

As you might expect, more expensive areas remain popular with renters but offer less bang for buck for investors.

For example, properties in Dorset and the South Coast gain 280 days a year of bookings, but enjoyed the lowest yields of the last 12 months - an average of 5.9%.

And while National Parks are very popular, they command a 22% premium on the sales price compared with other UK holiday lets. The New Forest is the most expensive park to buy in, at an average price of £525,000.

Holiday lets becoming more popular

Separate research by Mintel published in April found that so-called 'staycations' are increasingly sought after as the UK undergoes a tourism boom.

Good weather last year resulted in domestic holidays increasing by 4.7% to 58.5m, while expenditure soared by 6.2% to reach £14.1bn.

Can I get a mortgage on a holiday let?

Mortgages can work slightly differently on holiday lets, though some major lenders such as Leeds Building Society do offer specific products.

Many lenders steer clear as these properties don't offer guaranteed income. For example, many holiday lets are only in demand in specific seasons, so rental income can fluctuate significantly.

As a minimum, you'll need a deposit of at least 25% for a holiday let mortgage, though for a competitive rate, 35% to 40% is a benchmark.

Some homeowners look to remortgage their current properties and release equity to raise a sizeable deposit for their investment property, thus reducing the amount they'll need to borrow.

Rules around holiday let mortgages

Lenders who do offer specialist products will expect to see extra proof that you can afford the repayments.

Maximum loans are often £500,000, and you'll probably only be allowed to have one mortgaged holiday let in your portfolio.

Aside from this, lenders will request a letter from a local agency detailing weekly letting rates for the property throughout the year, and will stress test the yearly average.

Your rental income will need to be around 145% of your mortgage payments, tested at an interest rate of around 5.5%.

Tax relief for holiday homes

Some of the tax and regulatory changes applying to buy-to-let properties don't apply to furnished holiday lets, meaning it's possible to enjoy good rental yields.

They can be more expensive in some other ways, though.

If you're letting a fully furnished holiday home, this will be seen as a business venture rather than a property investment.

This means you should be able to claim tax relief against fixtures and fittings, and offset your mortgage interest costs, tax and utility bills against your income.

You will, however, still have to pay the additional 3% stamp duty surcharge when you buy your holiday let if you already own another home.

Rules around holiday lets

For your property to be considered a holiday let for tax purposes, you'll have to meet some stipulations.

Firstly, the property has to be available for at least 210 days of the year, and has to be occupied by tenants for at least 105 days a year.

You also won't be able to include any longer lets - classified as those over 31 days - in these figures.