November 30, 2023 2:43 pm

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

The rising popularity of serviced apartments attracts guests seeking hotel-like comforts while maintaining their privacy. To stand out among the competition and increase profitability, it’s crucial to enhance your marketing strategies for your multiple properties in town.

A widely favoured property investment method amongst astute investors is Lease Options, also commonly referred to as Rent to Own. This approach has proven invaluable in my property investment endeavours. I employ this method both for acquiring property and, during sluggish property markets, for selling it whilst achieving the full listed price.


What Is a Lease Option?

A lease option is a contract that provides a tenant the opportunity to buy the leased property either during the lease term or at its conclusion. This arrangement also restricts the landlord from selling the property to other potential buyers. At the term’s end, the tenant has to decide to either proceed with the purchase or relinquish the option. This is commonly referred to as a rental agreement with a purchase choice.

A lease option provides a potential purchaser with greater leeway than a typical rent-to-buy contract, where the tenant is obligated to purchase the property at the lease’s termination. The property’s price is predetermined by the tenant (the prospective buyer) and the landlord, generally based on the present market value. This arrangement enables the tenant to lock in the current value for a future purchase.

For this privilege, the landlord usually imposes an initial fee, which could be around 1% of the property’s selling price. If the tenant opts to acquire the property after the lease, this fee contributes to the initial deposit. Lease options are particularly beneficial for those improving their credit rating or lacking adequate savings for an initial deposit. Nonetheless, several aspects of lease options should be weighed up.


How do we profit from it? 

When it comes to purchasing, this strategy is remarkably effective. I’ve pinpointed properties I wish to acquire without taking out a mortgage. So, I propose a lease option to the seller for a duration of 5 years. This entails making regular lease payments, but unlike standard renting, I have the choice to buy the property anytime within these 5 years. However, there’s no obligation for me to purchase.

You might wonder about the logic behind this. Imagine foreseeing that the property’s value will rise by 15 to 20% over the next five years. You could then profit a hefty £50,000 by selling it to a third party without ever officially owning it. Quite an enticing prospect, isn’t it? And this isn’t just hypothetical.


Make Money as A Middleman 

Using the lease option approach, you can act as a facilitator and earn between 20 to 50 thousand per deal. Secure a property through a lease option, find a tenant or buyer, and collect a down payment (usually 3-5% of the property’s value). You might’ve only paid 1-2% initially. Then, charge them a slightly higher rent than what you owe the original seller. Once the lease period ends, if they choose to buy, the difference between the agreed price and the current value is your profit, which can be quite significant in some regions.

When attempting to sell your property in an area with a multitude of sellers nearby, it can become a challenge to secure a sale without significantly reducing your asking price. Especially if you have an outstanding mortgage, there’s only so low you can feasibly go, right? So, how do you navigate this? A potential solution is to employ the lease option method. This strategy is ideal if you’re not in urgent need of accessing all your equity immediately. If you can afford a brief wait to fully cash in, then this method can be quite beneficial. You can achieve your full asking price, avoiding the hefty reductions your neighbours might be compelled to offer.

I typically offer a lease option for a period ranging between 1 and 2 years, requiring an upfront deposit of 3 to 5%. Once this term concludes or even during it, the individual must decide to buy or risk eviction by the end of the period. The initial deposit, which is always non-refundable, would be forfeited, ensuring I retain it.


Lease Option Terms

There are several key elements within lease option agreements, beginning with the lease duration. This specifies the time the tenant will reside in the property. Equally vital is the purchase option price, which stipulates the cost at which the tenant can opt to buy the property. Sometimes, rather than a fixed sum, a formula might be provided to deduce the price (for example, the Official Kelley Blue Book value at the lease’s end).

Another component is the option fee, sometimes referred to as option consideration. This initial non-returnable payment is made by the tenant to the property owner, guaranteeing their right to potentially buy the property during the lease. Some agreements may include rent credits, which can occasionally be used to counterbalance fees or reduce the eventual buying price.

There’s often a designated period within lease options when tenants must inform landlords of their decision to utilise the purchase option. It’s essential for tenants to observe this period, lest they forfeit their purchasing rights.

Lease options typically come with clauses for default and termination. These provisions detail the consequences if either party doesn’t fulfil their responsibilities. Some agreements might offer tenants the chance to prolong the lease duration or the decision-making window if they need additional time to mull over the purchase decision. Sometimes, extending might come at a cost. Finally, a lease option might necessitate a property valuation and survey to ascertain its present worth and state when the buying option is activated. This essentially safeguards the buyer from spending excessively on a property that’s not up to par.


Is it genuinely a lease with a buying option… or an outright purchase?

How a lease is perceived – as a direct sale or a lease option – hinges on the details of the deal. If there’s a strong likelihood the tenant will use the option, the HMRC will typically classify it as a purchase.

Several elements bolster the interpretation of the deal as a lease option. If these conditions are satisfied, the deal won’t be seen as a sale:

  • No part of the rent is explicitly identified as interest or can be easily equated to it.
  • The tenant isn’t obligated to make considerable upgrades to the premises under the lease terms.
  • The agreement doesn’t stipulate that rental payments should be offset against the option or sale price.
  • The stipulated lease payments aren’t markedly above the going rate for comparable leases without a purchase option.
  • The aggregate of lease payments and option fees doesn’t constitute a major fraction of the property’s market value.
  • The option’s purchase price isn’t significantly lower than the property’s market value.
  • The tenant can only obtain ownership by activating the lease option, not by merely fulfilling the rent payments outlined in the contract.


How might this impact my taxation?

The pivotal element in ascertaining if you possess a lease option lies in when the ownership change occurs. Within a lease option, the transition of ownership happens upon the activation of the purchase choice. All payments made before this acquisition are treated as rental costs for the tenant and rental revenue for the landlord. Should the fees paid by the tenant for the purchase option be deducted from the final purchase price when they choose to buy, these fees aren’t considered for tax purposes until the option is either taken up or lapses.

If the lease option doesn’t fulfil the necessary criteria and is instead viewed as an instalment purchase, the transition of ownership is deemed to have occurred when the initial lease was agreed upon. Under these circumstances, the tax implications for the landlord and tenant differ markedly:

  • The landlord or vendor regards the lease and option payments as elements of the sales price and logs the sale in the year the original contract was formed.
  • The vendor cannot claim tax deductions for depreciation or other operational costs.
  • The vendor must account for a profit on the instalment sale, corresponding to the payments obtained annually until the total profit is acknowledged once the purchase choice is activated.

Conversely, the tenant or purchaser views the payments made before activating the purchase choice as instalment repayments. Subsequently, the buyer can start to depreciate the asset and claim a tax deduction on the interest component of these repayments.

Grasping the tax implications of a lease option is pivotal. Accurate representation is imperative to prevent erroneous disclosures to the tax authorities, potentially necessitating amendments to previous tax submissions to rectify the handling of the transaction.


Lease Options for Long-term Investing

What is a long-term lease?

A long-term lease surpasses the industry standard duration. In commercial real estate, this could span a decade or more, while for single-family homes, it usually exceeds a year. Extended leases ensure consistent payments throughout the lease period, benefiting property managers with stable income and reduced vacancies. Yet, infrequent lease renewals might limit price adjustments.

The idea of a lengthy lease can evoke concerns for property managers. Committing residents for two or more years may seem like a gamble on their quality and lease value. While such leases involve trade-offs, many property managers recognize the advantages outweighing risks in a changing market.


Benefits of a long-term lease 

A lengthy residential lease provides advantages to residents, property managers, and owners:

  • Stability: Extended leases offer residents security, preventing sudden property sales or lease non-renewals. Families and single individuals seeking community roots benefit from avoiding frequent moves.
  • Predictable Costs: Rent remains constant during the lease, aiding residents in budget planning and preventing unforeseen rent hikes. Property managers and owners enjoy steady income for expense and investment planning.
  • Lower Vacancies: Long-term leases decrease property vacancy rates, providing reliable, committed residents. This reduces turnover costs and time spent finding new tenants.
  • Responsible Tenants: Residents with long-term leases tend to maintain properties better, leading to fewer damages, lower maintenance, and a positive experience for both parties.
  • Enhanced Credit: Extended leases help residents establish a rent payment history, improving creditworthiness. Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package even reports on-time payments to credit bureaus.

Ultimately, a prolonged residential lease yields a Triple Win for property managers, owners, and residents. Defining clear lease terms ensures that all parties’ expectations are met.


Liabilities of a long-term lease

Naturally, despite the advantages, long-term leases come with their share of obligations. The principal downside of extensive management lies in the necessity to ascertain the lease and resident compatibility with your investor.

Before embarking on a long-term apartment or house lease, several considerations should be kept in mind:

Conduct comprehensive background and credit assessments for all tenants. Outline eviction-inducing conduct explicitly in the lease agreement. Anticipate challenges when removing problematic residents. Recognise that raising rent swiftly, as done with short-term rentals, might be more complex.


Long-term lease vs. short-term lease

A residential long-term lease and a residential short-term lease primarily differ in their duration. Long-term leases usually extend for a year or more, while short-term leases span less than a year. The key distinctions are as follows:

  • Duration: Long-term leases usually persist for one or two years, while short-term leases can range from a few weeks to 11 months.
  • Flexibility: Short-term leases provide greater flexibility, accommodating quicker moves, which suits uncertain or frequent relocators. Long-term leases prioritize stability but can be less adaptable for early departures.
  • Rent Amount: Short-term leases can be costlier month-to-month due to the flexibility premium. Long-term leases generally feature lower monthly rates but require consistent payments for the entire term.
  • Renewal: Long-term leases typically allow renewal, extending the lease. Short-term leases may not offer automatic renewal, necessitating negotiations for extensions or new agreements.
  • Maintenance: Long-term leases shift more property maintenance responsibility to tenants due to their extended stay. Short-term leases often involve more property management-led maintenance due to higher resident turnover.

The choice between the two types of leases depends on factors like your future plans, stability needs, flexibility, and budget considerations.


Long-term lease examples

A residential long-term lease typically pertains to an agreement between a tenant and an owner that extends for a year or more. Here are illustrations of long-term residential leases:

  • One-year or two-year lease: The most prevalent long-term lease type is the one-year lease, spanning a year with monthly rent payments. Less common yet still standard are two-year leases.
  • Multi-year lease: In specific instances, owners might offer leases spanning three, four, or five years. These leases ensure high stability and predictability but offer less flexibility than shorter-term alternatives.
  • Corporate lease: Businesses might lease properties for their employees over several years. Such leases often involve direct company payments to owners.
  • Lease-to-own: This long-term lease lets residents rent a property for an extended period with an option to buy it at the lease term’s end. This suits those who want to establish roots without immediately committing to homeownership.


How the long-term lease helps investors

Gregg Cohen from PWB Properties spearheads the movement for long-term leases. PWB stands out as a unique property management firm, prioritizing investor ROI.

JWB’s success lies in their adept grasp of generating a Triple Win in an era requiring relationship-focused property management. Beyond conventional property management, they’ve crafted an investor-friendly business model. This includes a focus on long-term leases, as evidenced by their 5-year case study showcasing the financial outcomes of enrolling residents in extended lease agreements.



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A Comprehensive Guide to Buy-to-Let Mortgages

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