Whether you own a single buy-to-let property or are growing a portfolio, working with the right accountant can be invaluable. Not only can they reduce your workload, they can help you grow your business and make wiser investment decisions. Here’s all you need to know.
The benefits of working with the right accountant as a landlord
There’s nothing to say you have to work with an accountant as a landlord – so you might be on the fence about whether or not you need one. The decision is up to you, but, considering the growing complexity of buy-to-let compliance requirements and property tax, getting support and advice from a trusted professional may be a wise move.
To kick things off, let’s do a quick recap of what an accountant can do for any business owner:
- Help you keep your tax bill down and run your business efficiently – an accountant can advise you on how to navigate the tax system legally and as efficiently as possible, so that you never unwittingly overpay on tax.
- Give you peace of mind – an accountant knows the tax system inside-out, so you can rest assured you’re not making costly errors on your tax returns.
- Help you navigate ever-evolving tax rules – a good accountant will stay up-to-date with the latest tax rules, keeping you informed, and your business finances in check.
- Help you deal with HMRC – an accountant can speak to HMRC on your behalf, saving you time and stress. For example, if HMRC needed more information from you for a tax return, your accountant could handle that for you.
- Help you grow your business – a good accountant can help steer your business in the right direction, leading to wiser business and investment decisions.
Choosing an accountant for landlords – our top tips
So, you’re in the market for a property accountant – but how do you choose one who’s reliable, and who’ll add genuine value to your business? Let’s take a look 👇.
Seek word-of-mouth recommendations
The first and often best port of call when looking for an accountant for your buy-to-let finances is to ask around other landlords. Although online research can be really helpful, nothing quite beats a real-life recommendation from someone you know who also has the same kind of challenges and needs as you do. This can act as a great starting point for your search.
Dig deep into their property credentials
It’s no secret that property tax can get complex. it’s important to work with an accountant who understands the specific challenges landlords face – whether that’s to do with holiday lets, HMO’s, buying property through a limited company, income shifting for tax efficiency, or something else. Many property specialists will have dedicated service packages for landlords, or will even have one or more of their staff identified as a property expert.
Be prepared to interview several accountants
This is the only real way to give yourself a benchmark to work against. While that initial accountant you spoke with may have seemed impressive, you could meet another one who feels like a much better fit for your business in ways you hadn’t considered before. Your best bet for finding a great match is to plan on interviewing several accountants so you can start to get a feel for what’s out there.
Tip: Keep reading to find out what kind of questions to ask potential accountants for landlords in the discovery phase 👇.
When carrying out interviews be sure to ask each accountant if they have experience working with landlords. If you have a portfolio of properties, ask them if they have experience working with similar set-ups.
Check out their general accounting credentials
Working with an accountant who’s part of a professional body can give you extra peace of mind. Working with a chartered accountant – from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales or in Scotland, or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants – can give you reassurance with regard to their level of service, ethical standards and, often, specific domain expertise.
Questions to ask an accountant for landlords
Ask potential property accountants these questions to get to the heart of whether or not they’re a good fit for your landlord business:
- What experience do you have with working with landlords?
- How can you help me manage and grow my portfolio?
- How can you help me have an efficient set up with regard to inheritance?
- How will you communicate with me and keep me updated?
- And, of course, the key question: do you have a dedicated software solution for landlords? (this is the question that we always ask at Hammock 😀)
Some extra things to consider when picking an accountant for landlords
Finding an accountant that suits your needs is about more than just credentials. You’ll want to make sure you’re working with someone you feel comfortable with, can trust, and who’s willing to be really proactive when it comes to things like financial planning.
To find a great fit, it can help to ask yourself these questions:
- Do you understand what they’re saying? – There’s a huge amount of jargon in the property tax world, but that doesn’t mean you personally need to have an accounting qualification to succeed as a landlord. Your accountant should explain things to you in a way you understand – it’s their job to translate the heavy stuff for you. If you find yourself feeling totally lost every time you chat with them, they might not be a great fit.
- Are they up to date and ready to help you navigate Making Tax Digital (MTD)? – It’s crucial to ask any accountants you speak to if they’re on board with the government’s upcoming Making Tax Digital scheme. You’ll want to make sure you’re working with someone who’s comfortable with the latest MTD-friendly tax software and who can help you navigate the world of digital tax.
- Will they help you stay more on top of your property income and expenses? – As we always say here at Hammock, the income from property was traditionally considered “passive” income. However, the stricter compliance requirements and the changes in regulation are pushing landlords to be more and more active in managing their property investments. An accountant who helps you keep the finger on the pulse on the performance of your portfolio and who encourages you to plan for future scenarios will be the best partner to help you thrive.
Choosing an accountant for landlords – closing thoughts
Choosing the right accountant can be a critical decision for you as a landlord. It’s not just about finding someone to do your books and file your taxes; it’s about finding a partner who can actively help you to grow your business. The above tips should help you to narrow things down and understand whether a potential accountant is going to be able to deliver on all these points. Good luck!
Good to know: Hammock helps your accountant achieve even more
Hammock is designed to make your life as landlord easier by simplifying every aspect of your property finances. This, in turn, helps your accountant get an even more accurate picture of your property income and expenses in a fraction of the usual time – freeing them up to focus their efforts on finding ways to help you reach your business goals.