Skip to content

Buy to Let: Choosing Between a Limited Company and Personal Ownership

In the Buy To Let (BTL) market, weighing the pros and cons of personal versus company ownership is crucial due to the distinct property tax implications. Personal ownership exposes investors to income tax, capital gains tax, and stamp duty land tax, while a buy to let company typically faces corporation tax and could trigger an additional stamp duty surcharge. The recent spike in UK buy to let companies, with a record-setting 47,000+ incorporations, underscores a growing preference for corporate structures in property investment. 

When it comes to tax planning in the buy to let market, a thorough understanding of the tax landscape is vital, especially considering the implications of income tax, stamp duty land tax, and possible tax benefits. Given the intricacies of property tax and corporation tax, landlords must obtain bespoke professional advice that caters to their unique financial circumstances and investment objectives. 

Tax Implications for Personal Name Ownership 

For those exploring personal ownership of buy to let properties in the UK, grasping the nuances of property tax is an indispensable part of effective investment management. 

  • Income Tax on Profits – Landlords generating rental income from their buy-to-let properties fall under the purview of income tax, with varying rates from the tax-free allowance to higher brackets for significant additional income. These rates are segmented as follows: £0 – £12,570 is tax-free, 20% for Basic rate taxpayers, 40% for Higher rate taxpayers, and 45% for Additional rate taxpayers, making tax allowance knowledge essential for every landlord. 
  • Mortgage Interest Relief – The buy to let tax landscape underwent a significant shift with the advent of Section 24, which now restricts landlords from deducting mortgage interest as an expense. Instead, they receive a basic rate deduction from their property tax liability on finance costs. This change, effective since the 2020/21 tax year, has amplified the appeal of company ownership, often associated with lower corporation tax, for many landlords seeking tax efficiencies. 
  • Capital Gains Tax (CGT) – Landlords divesting personally owned properties are confronted with second property capital gains tax (CGT), with rates contingent on the taxpayer’s status. The CGT framework includes a tax-free allowance from £3,000, followed by 18% for Basic rate taxpayers and 24% for Higher & Additional rate taxpayers (as of March 2023 budget). Additionally, non-UK residents must contend with CGT on the sale of interests in UK residential property, adding another layer to the property tax considerations. 
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – Stamp duty land tax applies to the acquisition of secondary residential properties, inclusive of a 3% surcharge, while first-time buyers may be eligible for relief. This is one of several potential reliefs that can mitigate the overall property tax burden. More information on stamp duty rates.
  • Inheritance Tax (IHT) – In the intricate sphere of estate planning for landlords, inheritance tax planning becomes crucial, with Inheritance Tax (IHT) imposing a substantial 40% property tax on estates over a £325,000 threshold. Additionally, a 7-year taper on gifts must be factored into financial strategies to mitigate tax burdens. 
  • Other Considerations
  • Losses – Property owners managing assets in personal ownership face the challenge that property tax does not permit the offsetting of property losses against other income streams, a restriction that could hamper financial flexibility and necessitate careful planning for Losses. 
  • Domestic Items Relief – Landlords can tap into tax advantages such as the Replacement of Domestic Items relief, an allowable expense under property tax law, which provides a way to reduce outlays for capital items in residential properties. 
  • Holiday Lets – The discontinuation of holiday let tax relief marks a significant shift in property tax considerations, impacting the buy-to-let tax computations for Holiday accommodation properties that were once qualified under this favourable tax category. 
  • Accommodation Benefit in Kind – It’s imperative for company owners to understand the tax treatment when using company property for personal enjoyment, as the Accommodation Benefit in Kind comes with its own set of property tax and regulatory implications that must be carefully navigated. 

When comparing private landlord scenarios to company-owned properties, landlords who rely on rental income and oversee smaller portfolios often prefer the simplicity and financial benefits of personal ownership.  

This approach allows for greater control in property management and the retention of profits upon sale, though it’s essential to weigh these perks against the potential for a higher tax bill, as personal borrowers typically face lower interest charges than their limited company counterparts. 

Tax Implications for Limited Company Ownership 

The buy to let limited company route stands out in the property sector for its corporation tax efficiency and financial flexibility. This overview highlights the advantages that investors can reap from utilizing limited company structures in the buy to let market: 

  • Corporation Tax Rates – Under UK corporation tax laws, limited companies are taxed on rental income at corporation tax rates, which are often more beneficial than personal income tax rates. For entities with profits under £50,000, the rate stands at 19%, increasing to 25% for profits over £250,000. Conversely, individuals can face personal income tax rates up to 45% for higher earnings. 
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction – One of the primary benefits for buy to let limited company investors is the ability to deduct mortgage interest and other allowable expenses from rental income prior to corporation tax assessment. This deduction strategy can significantly lower taxable profit and, as a result, reduce the total corporation tax burden. 
  • Dividend Distribution – Owners of limited companies can choose to extract income through dividends, which are subject to Dividend tax rates distinct from PAYE income. Even with the dividend tax-free allowance now £500 (5th April 2024), dividends remain a tax-efficient method for profit distribution, especially when compared to the higher rates of personal income tax. 
  • Inheritance Tax Planning – Strategically incorporating family members as shareholders in a limited company for buy to let can facilitate inheritance tax planning and optimise tax benefits. Moreover, the property’s ownership by a separate legal entity provides limited liability protection, safeguarding personal assets from financial risks. 
  • Succession Planning – Director ownership in limited companies offers significant tax savings, particularly through the ability to repay directors’ loans using the company’s tax-free cash reserves. This approach is a clever tactic for harmonising personal and corporate fiscal strategies, providing an effective way to allow future financial planning. 
  • Liability and Loan Guarantees – The principle of limited liability in a company structure offers protection for personal assets, yet directors are often required to provide personal guarantees when securing loans, which can affect mortgage interest rates. These rates for limited companies may be slightly elevated, usually ranging from 0.5% to 1% higher than those for personal ownership, mirroring the risk associated with limited liability entities. 
  • Accessing Funds – Limited companies can employ various tax efficient strategies for profit distribution, including salary, dividends, loan interest, or realizing capital gains, each with its own tax treatment benefits. Nevertheless, it’s important to consider that extracting profits from a company might entail higher costs and certain restrictions. 
  • Capital Gains Tax – One of the most notable benefits when buying property through a limited company is the exemption from Capital Gains Tax upon asset disposal, offering a clear advantage over personal ownership where CGT significantly affects property sales. This exemption can result in considerable savings, especially for those establishing a company specifically for property acquisition. 
  • Operational Costs – The incorporation process and ongoing record keeping for a limited company require additional time and resources. Investors should weigh these demands against their goals to determine the most suitable structure for their property investment endeavours. 
    In summary, buy to let via limited company ownership combines tax planning benefits with financial flexibility and strategic advantages for sustained property investment. This approach is particularly beneficial for higher-rate taxpayers and those looking to expand their property portfolio while minimizing personal financial risk. However, investors must be cognizant of the heightened administrative responsibilities and operational costs associated with managing a limited company. 

Mortgage Considerations 

Exploring buy-to-let mortgage options reveals a distinct difference between personal and limited company ownership structures in property investment. Assessing these differences is essential for making informed decisions, particularly in relation to mortgage interest rates. A quick guide to mortgage types and repayment methods is here

  1. Mortgage Interest Allowance
    • Investing in buy to let properties through a limited company allows mortgage interest to be classified as allowable expenses, which can significantly diminish the corporation tax due by reducing the taxable income of the business. 
    • While individual landlords have grappled with shifts in tax relief, corporate property holders benefit from the full deductibility of mortgage interest, a factor that can lead to substantial property tax savings and more favourable mortgage interest rates for those with buy-to-let mortgages. 
  2. Interest Rates and Lender Criteria
    • Buy-to-let mortgages designed for limited companies come with their own set of lending criteria and are often accompanied by higher mortgage interest rates than those available to individual landlords. 
    • Despite the increased mortgage interest rates and lender arrangement fees associated with buy-to-let mortgages for limited companies, the financial equation often tips in favor of investors due to the tax benefits inherent in a corporate structure. 
  3. Risk and Liability
    • Opting for a limited liability company structure when investing in property can provide a significant shield, as it limits personal liability and safeguards personal assets against potential business financial setbacks. 
    • The shift towards establishing a buy to let limited company for property investment has accelerated post-2017, following changes to mortgage interest tax relief, reflecting investors’ heightened awareness of personal financial risks. 
      In conclusion, even with the prospect of higher mortgage rates, the tax benefits and reduced personal liability that come with a limited company for buy to let make it an attractive investment approach, especially for those overseeing a portfolio with multiple properties. 

Long-term Financial Implications 

  • Legal Obligations and Compliance Costs
    • Incorporating a limited company brings with it the critical task of adhering to legal responsibilities, which includes the diligent record keeping and timely submission of company accounts to ensure compliance with statutory regulations. 
    • These compulsory duties often result in accruing running costs for indispensable professional services, such as accounting and consulting with tax advisors, which are essential for keeping the company’s operations in line with regulatory standards. 
  • Profitability and Income Utilisation
    • For a landlord who channels all the rental income from a single buy-to-let property into personal use, maintaining personal ownership could prove more profitable due to the immediate access to these funds. 
    • Conversely, investors with the intention to reinvest earnings or those managing a portfolio of at least four properties may discover that operating a buy to let limited company offers greater financial benefits, notwithstanding the initial setup costs. 
  • Money Access and Property Transfer Costs
    • For private investors, the process of accessing funds is straightforward, with rental income being readily available for personal use, whereas limited companies typically distribute funds through dividends, which may affect the tax position of the recipients. 
    • The process to transfer property ownership of a buy-to-let into a limited company structure is intricate and could lead to tax implications, such as incurring capital gains tax and stamp duty, marking it as a significant financial undertaking. 
  • Operational Expenses
    • Limited companies are subject to ongoing running costs, which include accounting fees for the detailed preparation and submission of crucial financial statements and company accounts. 
  • Inheritance and Succession Planning
    • In the intricate domain of succession planning, incorporating inheritance tax planning into the equation, the transfer of shares in a limited company to heirs is often a more economical and efficient strategy than the complex and costly process of transferring a property portfolio held in personal names. Utilising trusts can further streamline this process, ensuring a smoother transition of assets. There are also ways to obtain shareholder and partnership protection.

Flexibility in Profit Distribution 

The flexibility in profit distribution for buy to let investments is significantly shaped by the ownership structure. Personal ownership and a limited company each present unique tax efficient benefits and implications, with the latter often allowing for the strategic use of dividends to optimize tax positioning. 

Reinvestment of Profits

  • Retaining after-tax profits within a limited company enables strategic reinvestment into future property investments or enhancements. This method not only fosters long-term growth and bolsters a property portfolio but also secures tax savings, making it a shrewd move for maximizing tax advantages. 
  • In stark contrast, personal ownership often leads to higher tax rates on rental income, which reduces reinvestment efficiency, as earnings are subject to personal income tax rates that must be settled prior to any potential reinvestment. 
  • Dividend Distribution
  • Limited companies have the option to distribute profits as dividends to shareholders, a tactic that can yield substantial tax benefits. This method is especially tax-efficient when compared to the higher personal income tax rates levied on rental income under personal ownership. 
  • The strategic tax planning of dividend payments, both in timing and amount, can be a pivotal method to optimize tax liabilities. This includes capitalizing on Dividend tax rates and leveraging the shareholders’ personal tax situations, along with the £500 tax-free dividend allowance, to maximize tax benefits. 
  • Evaluating Tax Benefits
  • Investors are encouraged to engage with tax advisors to meticulously evaluate potential tax rates and ownership structures, such as corporation tax for limited companies versus personal income tax and capital gains tax for individual ownership, to determine the most financially beneficial route for their property investment ventures. 
  • When delving into the right investment structure, it is essential to integrate tax planning considerations, not only for current tax implications but also for potential changes in tax legislation. Aligning with personal financial aspirations is key to ensuring the investor’s strategy remains future-proof and resilient to change. 
    The decision-making process for property investors regarding profit distribution is crucial when choosing between personal and limited company ownership in the buy to let market. Limited company ownership may offer tax benefits through more efficient profit extraction and reinvestment strategies, while personal ownership could align better with those seeking simpler financial planning and straightforward management. 


Our comprehensive analysis indicates that property investors face varying tax implications and long-term financial outcomes, whether they opt for personal or limited company routes in property investment. Personal ownership might attract investors who value simplicity and immediate profit access, but they must stay informed about their tax responsibilities. Conversely, a corporate structure can provide substantial advantages in tax efficiency and financial security for those with extensive portfolios or a focus on strategic reinvestment and succession planning. 
Choosing the most advantageous property investment path entails balancing immediate financial requirements with long-term aspirations. It is vital to align the investment strategy with one’s broader fiscal goals.  


Q: Should I purchase property as an individual or through a company? 
A: Buying property through a limited company is frequently more tax-efficient than personal ownership. However, it is critical to consider all associated costs, especially mortgage interest rates, which tend to be higher for individual buyers. The goal is to minimise expenses and maximize profits in the property acquisition process. 
Q: What are the advantages for landlords to operate as a limited company? 
A: Landlords who manage their rental income through a limited company benefit from avoiding income tax on rental profits, instead paying corporation tax. Currently at 19%, this tax is expected to rise to 25% from 2023, a shift that will inevitably impact the financial strategies of those invested in rental property. 
Q: Is it more efficient to invest in property as a company or as an individual? 
A: Investors scrutinising the role of capital gains tax within their investment strategy may discover an advantage as individual investors. They are entitled to an annual tax allowance, a capital gains exemption that companies do not enjoy. This benefit could make individual property investments a more tax-efficient choice in certain scenarios. 
Q: Can I transfer my existing buy-to-let property into a limited company? 
A: Transferring your buy-to-let property to a limited company can indeed be done, yet it is crucial to understand that this transfer property ownership is usually seen as a sale to the company with associated tax implications. Although in some cases this can be offset or transferred based on the ‘Ramsey’ ruling 

Due to the complexity and implications of such a transfer do seek professional advice prior to taking any action.  

Compton Financial Services logo

Your home is at risk if you fail to keep up payments on your mortgage or any other loans secured against it..

Compton Financial Serices Limited is an appointed representative of New Leaf Distribution Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the financial conduct authority (FCA). FCA number is 460421.