A quarter of private landlords plan to sell at least one property this year in the face of lower profits, according to new research by landlord insurance provider Simply Business.
The study found that 26% of landlords plan to reduce the size of their property portfolio, mainly due to uncertain market conditions, government reforms and tax increases, meaning more than half a million homes could be put up for sale.
The survey of 800 landlords revealed that with uncertain market conditions, four in five - 82% - of landlords are not planning on purchasing any more properties in 2020.
Just 13% said they would buy another property this year, while a third - 35% - also reported a decrease in their rental yield in 2019.
The top reasons landlords gave for wanting to sell are tax increases and government reform, such as shifting House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing, which added new stipulations on the minimum size of rooms, as well as banning of admin fees. Well over a tenth cited these as their reasons.
Other reasons that landlords gave for planning to sell include rising rental costs (10%), cashing in on their investment (9%), economic instability (5%) and slowing house price growth (4%). This comes after 35% also reported a decrease in their rental yield in 2019, which adds to the desire to sell.
Some 20% reported a decrease of 0-5%, just under one in 10 - 9% - reported a decrease of 5-10% and 3% of landlords reported a decrease of 10-15%.
Looking ahead to this year, 27% of landlords expect to see a further decrease in their rental yield in 2020. One in five - 18% - expect to see a decrease of 0-5%, and a further 6% of landlords expect to see a decrease of 5-10%.
Just 2% of landlords expect to see a decrease of 10-15%, while just over half - 52% - are still optimistic and expect their rental yield to increase in 2020.
Bea Montoya, chief operating officer at Simply Business, said: “Landlords around the country are telling us that government reforms, tax increases, and rising rental costs are forcing them to put their investments up for sale.
“The tax increases imposed by the government are proving counter-productive for landlords, while ongoing political and economic uncertainty hasn’t been providing landlords with the confidence they need to stay in the market. But selling a buy-to-let is a big decision, especially if you’re selling more than one.
“Any landlord looking to sell up should make sure they understand the complexities surrounding buy-to-let sales, particularly if the property is occupied. Any tenants should be made aware of plans to sell as early as possible, and given reassurance their tenancy still stands.
“When it comes to selling, landlords need to understand any tax implications involved, such as capital gains tax. If the property is sold for more than it was paid for, there will be a capital gains tax liability.”