DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL LAND
Q.Dear Louise, I have a buy-to-let mortgage from when I bought a property several years ago. I’m really worried I’m going to start losing money on it – is it worth holding on to the property as an investment or should I get out of the market completely?
A. This really depends on whether the property is already rented out and your personal circumstances. If you currently have tenants in place and you don’t have any immediate need for the money that you would get from selling the house, then I think that you should probably hold on to it.
If you are happy that you can keep it tenanted over the next few years until the rental market picks back up and your mortgage is relatively cheap – or at least manageable – then it is best to keep it, particularly if it’s easy to manage and there are no signs of any problems.
The rental market has been hit by the housing market downturn but if your property is a good one and well maintained then people will still want to rent it.
And now that the housing market is supposed to be bottoming out, why sell at the trough in the market? You are likely to be much better off waiting to sell until the market picks up again.
However, if you really are worried about losing money on the property to the extent that you would indeed need to sell, then I would recommend that you speak to your bank or financial adviser and see where you stand financially.
Q. Dear Louise, my tenancy agreement is coming up for renewal soon. I don’t want my landlord to put up my rent. How can I best negotiate a reduction in my rent, or ensure it stays constant?
A. Firstly, you need to decide whether you actually want to move or not – it costs money, you often have to take time off work and you have the stress and hassle of finding a new place.
If you like where you live and you have a good relationship with your landlord then you might want to stay put regardless of any rent increase.
But when it comes to negotiating the rent, the most important thing is research. It’s so easy and simple nowadays to go online to rental property portals to see what else you can get in the same area for the type of property you have.
If similar properties are much cheaper to rent, then you need to bring this to the attention of your landlord and as soon as possible.
Not only may you be paying over the odds for your property, you need to make the point that at the current rental price you may look to move and they might not be able to get another tenant straight away, which will lose them income.
You could get rid of a break clause and guarantee your tenancy for another 12 months in return for them keeping the rent on hold or even reducing it.
Landlords are entitled to ask for more rent at the time of renewal and you are equally entitled to negotiate. You may well be paying less per month than the average for the local market – this is where the research comes in – and therefore be more inclined to accept the increase in rent.
However, if neither of you are willing to compromise then it will be the tenant that has to move out.
Our rental expert is Louise Savage, director of Residential Land, London’s largest prime central London landlord.