Tax bills could be reason for drop-off in overseas landlords

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The proportion of overseas-based landlords across Britain has fallen to the lowest levels seen by a lettings network in at least seven years.

Dampened expectations for house price growth in London, combined with landlords' tax bills, could be putting some overseas investors off, the research suggests. 

One in 20 (5%) homes currently let in Britain is owned by overseas landlords, according to the data from Countrywide, based on 90,000 homes it lets and manages every year.

This is the lowest proportion in its records going back to 2010, when overseas landlords owned one in eight (12%) let properties.

Across the country, London has the biggest concentrations of overseas-based landlords, accounting for around one in 10 (11%) let homes there in 2017, according to Countrywide's figures.

It said that London has seen a particular drop-off in the proportion of overseas landlords. According to Countrywide's data, in 2010, more than one in four (26%) properties in London were owned by landlords based overseas.

The proportion of Europe-based landlords in particular has dwindled, Countrywide said. In 2010, they made up 39% of overseas-based landlords in London, but now the proportion is 28%, according to its figures.

Following the vote to leave the EU in 2016, there had been some suggestions that falls in sterling could attract more foreign investors - as the price of property in Britain would look relatively cheap.

Last year also saw a stamp duty hike for people buying second homes, including buy-to-let investors, among other tax changes for landlords which could potentially eat into their profits. 

Recent house price studies have shown a slowdown in the growth in property values in London, which had previously been driving the market with strong price increases. In recent months, other major regional cities such as Manchester have been powering ahead. 

Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide, said: "The growth of the private rented sector since 2010 has not been driven by overseas investors.

"A steady increase in foreign investors' tax bills combined with more recent falling expectations of price growth in London has led to a decline in foreign investment in buy-to-let.

"As well as having to contend with increased stamp duty and the annual tax on enveloped dwellings (ATED), overseas investors also saw the removal of capital gains tax exemptions in 2015."

Here are the proportions of let properties owned by overseas landlords in 2017, according to the data from Countrywide:

:: London, 11%

:: South East England, 5%

:: Yorkshire and the Humber, 4%

:: East of England, 4%

:: North East England, 4%

:: South West England, 4%

:: North West England, 4%

:: West Midlands, 3%

:: Wales, 3%

:: Scotland, 3%

:: East Midlands, 3%