Tuesday 29 November 2016 9:24 am

The reality of starting out as a landlord: Four months of no tenants and £2,000 set-up costs

It may be regarded as a money-spinning idea by some, but a new study has laid bare the challenges of being a landlord.

A fifth of new property owners said they had endured four months without tenants after they bought their first properties, according to a study by the Nottingham Building Society – while 53 per cent said they waited for a couple of months.

The average landlord now has to shell out £2,000 on top of the deposit, mortgage costs and stamp duty before they find their first tenants – with 62 per cent saying they had to redecorate or refurbish their properties before letting them out. Some 28 per cent said the redecorating took two weeks or more.

The research also found the average landlord spends £700 a year on maintaining their property.

The good news is, once the first tenants show up, things get easier: the majority of landlords said they had only experienced one month sans tenants in the past year – while 45 per cent said they had no "void" months in the past year.

Read more: How to put your children onto the property ladder (without acrimony)

Tighter rules

Still, there's no denying things are getting tougher for landlords. Not only did Philip Hammond use last week's Autumn Statement to insist landlords, rather than tenants, should pay letting agents' fees, but in April George Osborne added three per cent to stamp duty on buy-to-let homes. That's been blamed for an eight per cent dip in property transactions.

Earlier this month it also emerged the government will hand new powers to the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee (FPC) early next year which will allow it to place limits on loan-to-value ratios and interest coverage on buy-to-let mortgage products.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said the plans will "ensure that the buy to let sector can continue to make an important contribution to our economy, while allowing the regulator to address any potential risks to financial stability" – but experts were less convinced. 

"We would urge that the powers should only be applied where the buy to let sector poses a particular risk to economic stability," said a spokesperson for the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). 

"There is a need to consider the cumulative effects of a range of measures targeted at the buy to let sector."

Either way – being a landlord isn't getting any easier.