High house prices have made buy-to-let pretty much the most profitable form of property investment, with many home seekers opting for rented properties over the costs that come with purchasing their own home.
However, anyone looking to jump on the bandwagon should be aware of the responsibilities that come with buy-to-let investment. Any landlord will tell you about the stresses they have to face on a daily basis, and now a recent study by online letting agent PropertyLetByUs.com has revealed just which of the many responsibilities place the greatest strain on landlords.
Paying tenants preferred over well-behaved tenants
Overseeing property maintenance, finding tenants, dealing with tenants and keeping track of finances are all likely to be high on the list of the things that make every landlord wish they could stay in bed but none of these are the biggest cause of stress. Instead, the number one cause of stress for UK landlords is overdue rent.
According to the study, 25% of landlords surveyed cited late rent payments as their biggest cause for concern; higher even than “tenants from hell” as the study calls them, which came in second place with 20% of the vote.
Damage to the property followed closely with 18% of the vote, and deposit disputes came next at 13%. Only 7% of respondents rated dealing with evictions as most stressful, despite the legal difficulties involved and the hassles of finding a new tenant. Then again, it turns out that finding new tenants may not be as troublesome as some might think, with vacant periods garnering only 4% of the vote.
This shouldn't come as a big surprise, considering the current strength of the buy-to-let market and the sharp rise in the number of tenants looking for rental property. That number looks set to rise even further in 2015, meaning that the prospect vacancies and a lengthy search for tenants will become even less of a concern.
Another issue that ranks surprisingly low down on the list is that of taxes, with only 1% of the vote. This is despite the HMRC's recent aggressive targeting of landlords in its campaign to track down any undeclared income.
What does this mean for the market?
The results of the survey confirm what many landlords and tenants should already know: That their relationship is, first and foremost, a business one, and that tenants who are well-behaved but consistently fail to keep up with rent are less likely to be tolerated than moody, impolite tenants who always buy their rent on time.
It also suggests that many tenants are struggling to keep up with rental demands. Shelter estimates that over 3 million households in Britain fear missing rent or mortgage payments, while around 60% of people say they are struggling to meet their housing costs.
That said, the future continues to look promising for buy-to-let investors, with the market fast approaching a point where demand for rental properties will exceed supply.