Using A Limited Company To Buy Residential Property

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Simon Misiewicz

30th June 2020

Questions you may have about using a limited company? Buy to let company or not?

As property tax specialists we often see questions as you will see below. The question always arises buy to let limited company or not?

We will attempt to answer the below questions in this very article

– Can a limited company buy a residential property?

– How to start a limited company?

– What is a property company?

– What are the benefits of using a limited company to purchase buy to let properties?

– What are the disadvantages of using a limited company as a UK landlord

Should you purchase buy to let properties in a limited company?

You may be interested in our main article on Limited companies and tax structures. You may also be interested to know how more about our property tax services to help you buy and rent residential properties in a more tax-efficient way.

The sole aim of this article is to understand the pros and the cons of using a limited company as a UK landlord.

Why do people use a limited company?

There are many reasons why people use a limited company as a buy to let property investor. One of the reasons is to do with tax. A limited company has a corporation tax rate of 19%. The 19% rate is much lower than the 40% income tax rate for high rate taxpayers. It is also much lower than the 45% income tax rate for additional rate taxpayers.

The other reason for UK landlords to use a limited company is to minimise risk. If there is a legal case against you as a sole proprietor,  then your personal assets could be at risk if found guilty and have to pay out large sums of money to the claimant.

A limited company that is prosecuted does run the risk of its assets being taken away. However, the shareholder of the company can relax in the fact that their personal assets are not at risk. This is provided that they have not signed a personal guarantee.

Section 24 mortgage interest relief

One of the key reasons why more UK landlords are using a limited company is because of Section 24 mortgage interest relief. UK landlords no longer receive the top tax rate relief for the mortgage costs of their buy to let properties. They now get just 20% tax reducer on the mortgage interest costs. This means that buy to let property investors are paying more tax than they did before.

A limited company is not affected by the issues surrounding mortgage interest relief. All the mortgage interest costs may still be offset against the rental income of the property portfolio.

The income tax benefits of using a limited company

There are many income tax benefits of using a limited company.

– Tax-free wages

– Tax-free dividends

– Tax-free interest charged to the limited company

– Tax-free medical expenses paid on your behalf

– Tax-free non-cashable high street voucher

Extract cash out of a limited company

We have written an article on how to extract tax-free cash out of a limited company, which is certainly worth a read.

Why you should not use a limited company as a UK landlord

As mentioned above, many buy to let property investors use a limited company for tax reasons. As we have illustrated above, a limited company will pay corporation tax.

The shareholders receiving dividends would also be subject to income tax. We have used examples to show that people needing all the money would pay more tax using a limited company than they would be keeping the money in their own name.

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How to structure your limited company?

It is not a simple matter of thinking of a name and then starting a limited company. Actually, it is that easy, but then there are significant tax consequences by not thinking about the tax-efficient tax structure. There are many considerations when setting up a limited company. It is important for you to know what they are before you jump in and make costly mistakes.

A company will have a name. It is important to know what the name means and what it relates to. Your limited company will need a home, also known as a registered office. There are people involved in the running of a limited company. There are shareholders that own the company and company directors that are responsible for the careful running of the company.

It is vitally important that you set the company up with the right tax-efficient shareholder structure. Mistakes are often made by allocating “Ordinary” shares to the shareholders. This means that dividends are to be taken out of the company based on the number of shares allocated. This leads to tax nightmares. It is much better to allocate A, B, C shares to shareholders so that dividends may be taken out of the company in the most tax-efficient way.

Buy multiple properties form the same vendor to claim multiple dwellings relief to reduce Stamp Duty Land Tax.

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How do I transfer my rental property to a limited company?

One of the ways that many UK landlords are protecting themselves from Section 24 mortgage interest relief cap is to move their properties into a limited company.

Initially, you would be right in assuming that both Stamp Duty Land Tax and Capital Gains Tax would be chargeable by moving a buy to let portfolio into a limited company. However, it is possible to use the property partnership route to avoid both Stamp Duty Land tax and Capital Gains Tax when moving a rental property portfolio into a limited company. This is called incorporation relief and utilises the provisions set out in the Partnership Act 1890.

You will be required to refinance your buy to let mortgages. It is, therefore, a long process and one that needs to be managed very carefully. Please do take care. Mortgage interest rates are typically higher in a limited company than if you own rental properties in your own name.

Tax benefits of using a limited compared to the additional mortgage interest

Buying a residential property in your limited company may save you tax. What about mortgage interest rates?  It is worth checking with your mortgage broker to see how much more interest you will pay ion a buy to let mortgage that is in a limited company compared to your own name.

You may find that you save tax using a limited company as a buy to let investor but pay a greater amount of mortgage interest. You may pay more mortgage interest using a limited company than the tax you save.

You will need to weigh up the tax savings against the additional mortgage interest costs.

so, buy to let company or not?

You need to consider the tax benefits of using the limited company against:
– Additional buy to let mortgage interest costs in the limited company compared to that in your own name
– The double tax treatment if you wish to use the money generated from your buy to let property portfolio
– Additional accountancy and bookkeeping costs associated with the limited company
It is easy to listen to friends and read social media post about someone else’s situation and assume that the benefits described naturally lends itself to you. This would be a mistake.
We would advise anyone that is thinking of incorporating a property portfolio into a limited company or buying the next property inside a limited company to book time with:
– Their property tax specialist to ensure that tax will be saved by using a limited company structure
– A legal person / solicitor to ensure that assets are properly documented and protected
– A mortgage broker to ensure they know what buy to let mortgage interest rates are on offer. This allows the UK landlord to know how much more mortgage interest will be incurred by using a property limited company.

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