Tax Changes for Landlords

Tax Changes for Landlords

Whilst commercial properties and furnished holiday lettings are not affected by the proposals, last years changes to stamp duty caught many borrowers out when they came to completion and learned of significant stamp duty charges they were not aware of.

More complications are unfolding and landlords need to consider tax planning as part of any purchase or remortgage

The Changes

Restriction of tax relief on interest  

From 6th April 2017, tax relief on interest paid by landlords of residential properties will be restricted gradually by 1/4 for each tax year.

From 6th April 2020, interest will no longer be an allowable expense in computing the profits of the business. Instead mortgage interest will attract tax relief at 20%.

For example:

Joe is a 40% taxpayer. He wishes to purchase a buy to let property. He will be obtaining a £100,000 mortgage and letting the property for £600 per month. Here is the effect of the change:


2016 - 2017

2020 - 2021

Gross Rents



Repairs and other tax deductible costs



Interest on mortgage



Net Rental Profit



Tax @ 40%



Less interest relief @ 20% on £2,500 mortgage interest


£   500

Net tax liability on rental income




Additional tax per year


£  500



A basic rate (20%) taxpayer could also be affected by the changes as the rental income before mortgage interest may take them into the higher rate of tax.

How a basis rate tax payer may be affected

John has a salary of £11,000. He owns 3 rental properties on which his profit is £32,000 after deducting mortgage interest of £35,000.

See how the changes will affect John.


2016 . 2017 Liability

2020 . 2021 Liability

Tax Due on £32,000 @ 20%


£  6,400

Tax Due on £35,000 @ 40%



Mortgage interest relief £35,000 @ 20%



Tax Payable






Effective rate of tax on net income





Where a taxpayer is highly geared the tax liability can be more than the net rental income after paying the interest which could lead to financial difficulties for those individuals.

Removal of the 10% wear and tear allowance for furnished lettings

From 6th April 2016 the 10% wear and tear allowance on fully furnished properties will not be available. It is due to be replaced by a new Replacement Furniture Relief. This means that expenditure on replacing items of furniture and white goods will be allowed but if new items are added then they will not be allowed on the initial purchase.

So what can landlords do?

The effects of these changes can be mitigated in a number of ways which borrowers may wish to consider:

Transfer the ownership of the property to a lower earning spouse.

This is the simplest and easiest way to lower tax liability. But be careful. A transfer between spouses is tax neutral but there may a stamp duty charge if the amount of debt being transferred exceeds £40,000.

They also need to notify HMRC within 60 days if following the transfer the property is held in any ratio other than  50 : 50. Otherwise HMRC will not recognise the transfer until the notification is filed.

Transfer the rental property to a limited company or acquire new properties through a limited company.

Many higher rate taxpayers are now opting for this. Here's why :-

They get 100% tax relief on the mortgage interest.

Up to £5000 in profit can be taken as a dividend tax free. That could easily be £10,000 if the company is set up with 2 shareholders i.e. husband and wife.

Surplus profits can be used to pay off debt, acquire further properties or fund a pension plan.

Transfer of the properties from individual ownership to a limited company can be done without incurring capital gains tax using section 162 TCGA 1992 relief. There are a number of qualifying conditions but most professional landlords can avoid huge amounts of capital gains tax subject to the qualifying criteria.  

The drawbacks are :-

On the sale of a property the company pays corporation tax on any gain after indexation relief. Withdrawing the sale proceeds could be problematic if all the sale proceeds pushes the income into the higher rate band of 40%. Currently the top rate of capital gains tax paid by an individual is 28%.

Transferring existing properties may give rise to a capital gains tax liability as well as a stamp duty charge. Careful planning needs to be given to establish the one off costs of transfer compared to the annual tax increase.

A future budget may make changes that will counter any advantages.

Consider changing the type of property let to either a commercial property let or a furnished holiday letting.

The changes do not apply to commercial property or furnished holiday lettings.

All the above options come with advantages and disadvantages as well as pitfalls, so taking advice from a suitably qualified tax adviser as well as a qualified mortgage adviser is imperative before borrowers take any action.