As an IFA, you’ll probably have a few private residential landlords on your client list. Amongst many big regulatory changes affecting landlords recently, Section 24 has been causing some concern and confusion, and you may find your clients or prospects turning to you for advice on how to continue to make a profit in the increasingly challenging private rental sector.

What is Section 24?

Section 24 of the Finance Bill 2015-16 is a recent change, the first phase of which began on 6th April this year. Supposedly aimed at helping first-time buyers, it has been nicknamed ‘the tenant tax’, and reduces the amount of income tax relief (to basic rate of tax) that landlords can claim on the finance costs of a residential property.

How does this affect your potential clients?

Due to its significant impact on profit margins, this cut is widely considered the most significant threat to business and profitability that landlords have faced in recent times, even amidst an onslaught of regulatory changes and tax credit cuts. Consequently, many landlords will be re-examining their portfolios, considering their options, and seeking valuable advice on the best way forward for them in this new, more challenging landscape.

The main implication is that it will now be harder to profit from buy-to-let businesses; this affects the whole spectrum of private landlords, from those with large portfolios, to those who have perhaps purchased a second property as a retirement investment. The loss of this tax relief will impact the bottom line of any landlord, and we are yet to see the full effects on the private rental sector in terms of the impact on supply and demand, and on rent prices.

How can you help your clients?

It is still possible to profit from the rental sector in a post-Section 24 world, but landlords will need to be much savvier with their investments, and so they may be in need of independent professional advice to figure out the extent of the impact on their returns, how to balance their investment portfolio, or whether to sell a property. It is expected that many landlords will decide to exit the market, particularly accidental or amateur landlords – they will be looking for alternative investment options, now that their Plan A has been compromised, and they are likely to need advice on where to turn next. On the flip side, some more daring investors might see a mass exodus of amateur landlords as a chance to swoop in and fill the gap they leave.

There’s no doubt about it, this change will be leaving a lot of people scratching their heads and thinking about their next move. As an IFA you are in an ideal position to be providing them with much-needed guidance in these uncertain times. As recent statistics reveal that approximately 8 million people in England will be affected by the change, and of these around 1.4 million landlords are unaware of the extent of the effect it will have, there is clearly a real and urgent need for qualified, up to date advice, representing a potentially lucrative opportunity for the quick-acting IFA.

If you would like to know more about the options and opportunities available to your clients, I would be more than happy to discuss over the phone, via email, or even grab a coffee.

Alex.

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