A couple thought to be Britain’s biggest landlords has reportedly sold their 900-strong property portfolio to a foreign consortium for more than £250m.
Fergus and Judith Wilson announced their intention to sell their then 1000-strong portfolio, which is based in Kent, in July 2014. It is reported they sold around 100 properties in the summer.
Today it has been reported the controversial couple, both retired maths teachers who reportedly sent 200 tenants on housing benefits eviction notices at the end of 2013, have sold the remaining 900 homes to Arab investors. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2016.
Fergus Wilson told the Financial Times he was sorry to be giving up the portfolio but, at the age of 67, “common sense must prevail”.
He said: “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself . . . it’s been a happy, happy ride, a hobby that’s got out of control. Sometimes, years ago, you’d be buying a house for £35,000 and you’d be arguing over just £500.
“You couldn’t do now what I did. It’s partly because they will not lend at the higher levels of before. If I was starting again I’d be pushed to get a 75 per cent loan as a landlord.”
The sale comes at a time when there is intense scrutiny of the buy-to-let sector, although there is no suggestion this is a factor in the sale given that the couple announced their intention to sell 18 months ago.
In the summer Budget George Osborne announced a tapering of landlord tax relief to the basic rate of tax starting in 2017. Last month, he said he would give the Financial Policy Committee the power to contain the sector, although the Treasury has not revealed what powers would be at the committee’s disposal.
Further, the Chancellor announced increased stamp duty rates for landlords in the Autumn Statement. These rates will be 3 percentage points above the current stamp duty rates, although the Government is set to consult on this.