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Changing circumstances and ultra-low mortgage borrowing rates is creating a new generation of landlords.

A major feature of the rental market in recent years has been the rise of the ‘accidental landlord’. This is a homeowner who may not have intentionally acquired a buy-to-let property, but ended up letting their home after failing to sell the property, due to a change of events, or possibly a slow sales market.

Accidental landlords make up around a quarter of all landlords in this country - 360,000 - according to the National Landlords Association (NLA). Even if becoming a landlord was not part of your original plan, you may find this unexpected foray into the buy-to-let market highly rewarding, not to mention profitable.

“Buy-to-let has proven itself to be the top performing investment over the past four years, with returns from bricks and mortar investments outpacing other asset classes like stocks and shares considerably,” said Steve Bolton of Platinum Property Partners.

Of course, becoming an accidental, or so-called ‘reluctant’ landlord, is not without its challenge. However, the latest HomeLet Rental Index shows that rents are now at a record.

“Landlords in Britain own around 4.6 million homes collectively, worth almost £1 trillion - a fifth of the country’s private housing wealth.”

high of £1,515 per month, and coupled with shorter tenancy void periods, on average, many novice investors are actually renting out their homes at a profit, NLA figures show.

“An oversupply of people and an undersupply of homes makes buy-to-let an attractive proposition and we expect this trend to continue to gather pace over the coming months,” said Iain Hill of Equifax Touchstone, the market intelligence provider.

If you are thinking of joining the growing army of reluctant landlords, then you need (assuming you have a mortgage on your property) to initially seek consent from your lender in the form of a ‘consent to let’, to avoid breaching the conditions of your mortgage agreement. This will allow you to let out your property on a short-term basis, enabling you to remain on your existing mortgage deal and pay the same level of interest.

Plummeting borrowing rates, sparked by today’s competitive lending environment, have seen banks slash buy-to-let mortgage rates to an all-time low and closer to those charged on residential mortgages, tempting more families to move into the buy-to-let market. The cheapest five-year fixed rate for landlords now stands at just over 4%, down from 6.49% in 2010 - slashing hundreds of pounds off annual repayments. What’s more, buy-to-let investors can still take out cheaper ‘interest-only’ mortgages now deemed too risky for regular homebuyers, reducing their monthly payments even further.

There over a million landlords in Britain who own around 4.6 million homes collectively worth almost £1 trillion - a fifth of the country’s private housing wealth – and the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association estimates that landlords will own a third of all UK properties within 15 years, suggesting that accidental landlords will become a permanent part of the rental market’s proverbial furniture.

Top RENTAL tips
Regulation: With a lack of regulation governing letting agents, ensure your agency abides by a strict code of conduct and is signed up to an independent professional regulation scheme.

Health and safety: All furniture must be fire resistant.

Gas safety: Landlords are legally required to service all gas-related equipment annually.

Documents: Have a signed tenancy agreement and inventory detailing the contents and condition of the property in place before the tenancy commencement.

Deposit: All tenancy deposits must be protected under a government-approved custodial or insurance-based tenancy deposit scheme.