A survey of 300 clients of Mortgages for Business, a landlords broker, has revealed that 57 per cent wish to expand their portfolios over 2014. Among landlords with 10 or more properties, 66 per cent plan to invest more.

Such optimism is mirrored across the UK, as buy to let investment is seen as a way to get a reliable annual yield.

Letting agency Countrywide reported a 4.2 per cent increase in average national rents over the year to November. Increases were enjoyed in all regions except the South West.

However, property prices have risen faster than rents, suggesting that in terms of the rent-to-property-value-ratio, yields are down slightly. Specialist buy-to-let lender Paragon echoed this, with average year-to-November yields standing at 6 per cent, down from 6.7 over the same period the previous year.

Finding reliable tenants

Perhaps a bigger threat to rental income is tenants who fail to pay their rent, or in more extreme situations, who cause damage to a property. This risk can be mitigated by carrying out proper credit and history checks.

Lettings agents usually offer this type of service, but may charge up to £300. A much cheaper and faster alternative is offered by sites like 192.com, which for £30 provide information on an individual’s age, property ownership history, County Court Judgements and other information that can help a landlord decide if someone is a suitable tenant.

A profitable 2014

Landlord insurance can offer some reassurance – particularly as regards damage caused by a tenant – and when combined with rigorous background checks can help to make 2014 a successful year for UK landlords.