When looking at your buy-to-let options in the UK, not all rentals are the same. There is a wide choice of lettings that you could offer. Which you choose will depend not only on your budget and personal preferences, but also on how easy it will be to manage the property. Here we analyse a few types of rental, with the pros and cons.

Managing a houseful of students isn’t for everyone, but can be rewarding. Neither is dealing with either super-demanding super-rich or council tenants, but can be more profitable. Holidays lets require weekly cleaning as well as social media management, but you can always use the property yourself for a vacation.

You can manage the rental yourself and cut out the middleman. Or employ an agency and just relax, albeit with less profit.

There are so many variations on a theme of UK buy-to-let. We asked five landlords, of very different properties, how they get along.

Student tenants, Chris Weller, Leeds

Why this type of lettings?

We got a good deal on a big house in a student area, so just fell into it really. But my wife and I met in a mixed student house and have an affection for them. And students do need looking after. We considered the modern purpose-built student flats, but then you’re limited on resale options.

Student rental houses in Leeds, UK.

What do you like about it?

You meet new youngsters every year, and most are very nice. It’s much like being a parent, including, unfortunately, making them clean their rooms at the end of the year. But we take most of that out of the equation by just employing professional cleaners and allowing for that in the rent we charge.

What do you dislike?

It depends on the students, but some will call you for the slightest thing. We’re local though, so it isn’t so hard to pop round. One day we might get an agent in but the profit isn’t huge – and we’re missing out on capital growth now. Also, the government is really going for landlords, with the extra 3% on stamp duty, for example. Which seems unreasonable as it only goes onto the students debt in the long run.

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Tenants on benefits, Rob Callaghan, Cardiff

Why this type of letting:

We used to have students, but changing tenants every year was all a bit of a hassle. Then we heard the council needed accommodation. There’s a lot of homelessness about and we were happy to help.

What do you like about it?

It’s really quite easy. The council looks after the tenant and pay the rent to us. If people have damaged the place – and some have really trashed it – the council pays nearly all of it. We don’t have to bother with a lettings agent and rarely need visit a property when a tenant is.

What do you dislike?

If there are repairs required we have to organise and then the council pays it. And that can be a bit slow – as well as sad if your place is damaged! It can take a while to get the money (including the first payment). We’re also worried about Universal Credit where the tenant may be paid by the council and then pays us. I can’t see an upside to that, but plenty of potential problems.

Holiday lettings, Joan Phillips, St Ives

Why this type of lettings:

We inherited the house – which has to stay in the family – but we don’t have enough family to fill it every year! It’s good to keep a house occupied though, and renting it out pays the maintenance.

What do you like about it?

I like the idea of welcoming holiday guests to a pretty seaside cottage. We keep it so beautifully that we know that (any reasonable) people won’t be disappointed. So we feel that we’re making people’s lives better. Also, it rents for a fortune in high summer and not too badly in winter too.

UK rental property options, holiday rentals

Holiday cottages in St Ives (Paul J Martin / Shutterstock.com)

What do you dislike?

I am terrified of getting a tenant who slags us off on social media. Most people are really nice, and it does help to know (a) where our competitors are going right or wrong and (b) what tenants wish to see different. The biggest worry is that our cleaner won’t be there for the changeover one week and guests will arrive to a dirty house. I have nightmares about it!

A “high-end” family home in London, Sabrina Mercer

Why this type of letting?

I love property! Buying it, doing it up, designing it. And property investment in London has been great, though not so much lately. The capital growth may have stopped but the rental is still good.

What do you like about it?

Once the property is let 90% of the problem is over. Tenants usually stay for years and the money just rolls in.

What do you dislike?

The tax rates on our rental income are pretty high. Getting people to clean up properly can be a problem. They seem to think that a quick hoover and wipe down is “professional cleaning” and then get nasty if we withhold their deposit. Most tenants assume you are so rich and will call for anything. My attitude these days is that they can sort it out themselves if it’s their fault.

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The UK Buying Guide covers every stage of the property buying process, sharing our experience and knowledge to ensure a safe and successful property purchase. The guide will help you to:


  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Find investment opportunities

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