Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Rental Yields: A Key Factor in Property Investment
1st December 2023
19 minutes

Rental Yields: A Key Factor in Property Investment

Understanding rental yields is crucial for property investors seeking stable cash flow. By calculating the annual rental income versus property value, yields quantify potential returns to inform buying decisions and benchmark opportunities. This guide unravels exactly how yields are derived, what factors influence them, key thresholds for evaluation, plus practical tips to maximise profits in property investment over the long-term ownership lifecycle.

Rental yields calculate annual rental income as a percentage of property value. Gross yields of 4-8% are considered good targets for buy-to-let residential investments. Yields must be assessed for sustainability based on factors like tenant history, property condition, market prospects, expenses, and risks. Higher yields can sometimes reflect greater tenant turnover or maintenance costs.

Packing boxes moving out

Understanding and Defining Rental Yields:




The percentage return from renting out a property, calculated by annual rental income divided by property value.


Why is rental yield so important? It quantifies income potential against capital outlay, aiding investment decisions and cash flow sustainability.


Annualize monthly rent, adjust for occupancy rate, and then divide by property value (purchase price or current market value).

Gross vs Net Yield

Gross yield is rental income divided by property value; net yield subtracts expenses from the gross rental income.

Factors Influencing Yield

Location, property prices, market rents, tenant demand, and turnover.

Understanding Rental Yields

Defining Rental Yields

As a guide to property investment, when investing in property, one of the key metrics to understand is rental yield. Put simply, rental yield calculates the percentage return an investor can expect to receive from renting out their property. It is worked out by taking the expected annual rental income of the property and dividing it by the property's total value. Beech Holdings have a rental yield calculator to simplify the process.

For example, if a property is valued at £200,000 and rents out for £1,000 per month (£12,000 per year), the gross rental yield would be £12,000 divided by £200,000 - which works out as 6%. This 6% figure gives an at-a-glance view of the income versus capital ratio. While simple on the surface, using rental yields enables investors to benchmark and compare opportunities.

Rental yields are almost always shown as percentages rather than raw figures. This allows for easy analysis between properties - enabling investors to understand if an opportunity hits their income goals. Whether a studio flat in the city centre or a family home out of town, displaying the rental yield as a percentage creates a standardised measure.

Importance of Rental Yield

What are the basics of property investment? When assessing property investments, rental yield is a key metric for investors because it quantifies the income potential versus capital outlay. Essentially the annual return expected from ongoing rent payments. It answers the all important question - what income will this property generate based on current value?

While rising house prices and capital growth grab headlines, most property investors depend on the gradual accumulation of rental income. Positive cash flow sustains investments over the longer term. Therefore assessing assets based on yield gives clarity on income expectations, especially compared to alternatives.

For example, if rental yields in an area are averaging 5% but Bank of England base rates offer only 2%, this indicates an opportunity to capture greater returns through property. Especially on a leveraged basis where mortgages enable ownership despite having less capital to invest.

Naturally yields depend greatly on market rents and property prices in the surrounding location. A seemingly high gross yield could reflect higher tenant demand and turnover, achieved by cheaper property values. Meanwhile a lower yield in a prosperous neighbourhood could signal costly housing stock and more affluent tenants.

When weighing up different areas and properties, judging them by their yield creates an apples to apples comparison. Alongside metrics like location amenities, property condition, area demand, and management fees - yield forms a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Artillery House Manchester Kitchen

How to Calculate Rental Yield

Rental Income Calculation

The first step in deriving a property's rental yield is to calculate its total annual rental income potential. This is based on the expected monthly rent that can be charged to tenants, multiplied by 12 months to annualise it.

For example, if comparable nearby properties are achieving monthly rents of £1,500, the annual income on this basis would be £1,500 x 12 months = £18,000 per annum.

Of course, no property sees 100% occupancy throughout the year. Even in high demand areas, you must account for voids and periods with no tenants. As a guide, an occupancy rate of 95% would be five weeks unlet across 12 months.

Factoring in void periods provides a more accurate expected rental income figure. In the example above, at 95% occupancy the annual income would be 0.95 x £18,000 = £17,100 per annum.

So when using rental income in yield calculations, take the monthly market rent for the area and property type, multiply by 12, then adjust based on an achievable occupancy rate. This provides a realistic annual income.

Property Value Basis

When calculating yields, an important factor is which property value to base the maths on - purchase price or current market value.

Using the original purchase price paid provides comparable yields across a portfolio. It disregards volatile market swings that may distort yields up or down. However, it fails to represent ongoing value.

Alternatively, using the latest market valuation accounts for price growth and gives context on current yields. However, this fluctuates frequently and doesn't offer consistency.

For properties held longer term, deriving yields from original base costs makes it easier to assess performance over time. Meanwhile, to evaluate new opportunities, present day valuations better highlight income versus capital outlay.

In other words - there's merit in both approaches. Purchase price yields enable straightforward benchmarking across a portfolio, while market value yields provide context on potential returns on current capital.

Gross vs Net Yield

Yields are normally quoted on a gross basis at first - calculated as just the rental income divided by property value before expenses. However property ownership also involves costs that must be paid from this income.

Factoring these expenses in gives a net yield figure, providing clarity on the actual returns after all property costs are covered.

Typical expenses to consider include:

  • Letting agent fees

  • Maintenance

  • Ground rent & service charges

  • Insurance

  • Mortgage payments

  • Tax liabilities

To work out the net yield:

Gross Annual Rent

Minus Total Annual Expenses

= Net Annual Rental Income

Divide the Net Income by the Property Value

For example, a property valued at £200,000 that rents out at £1,000 per month (£12,000 gross annual rent) may involve £3,000 per year in costs. This would deliver £9,000 net income, creating a 4.5% net yield versus a 6% gross yield.

Clearly identifying net yields provides transparency on real returns for property investors after operating the asset. Enabling accurate comparisons accounting for costs.

Maximising and Benchmarking Rental Yields:



Improving Yields

Negotiate property purchase costs, add value through refurbishments, and optimise expenses to increase net yield.


Compare with averages (4-8% considered solid), profile against local properties, and cross-reference with other investment types.


Assess sustainability factors such as tenant profile, property condition, market conditions, and cost factors.

Risk Factors

Consider letability, property risks like leasehold constraints, and ensure due diligence to mitigate yield erosion.

Beech Holdings Example

Offers strategies and models to achieve 8%+ gross yields, demonstrating application of yield maximisation practices.

Pexels ketut subiyanto 4246234

Improving Your Rental Yields

Lower Purchase Costs

One clear way for investors to improve rental yields is to negotiate discounts when purchasing the property in the first place. This creates room for enhanced yields as annual rents remain the same but capital costs decrease. Here’s some tips for successful property investment negotiations.

In the current market, opportunities exist to buy below asking prices - especially for cash buyers making swift purchases without needing financing. Even a 5-10% reduction against market value can add 0.5-1% onto achievable rental yields from day one.

Beyond upfront discounts, investors may also negotiate better terms overall such as including fixtures and fittings or white goods within the sale. This reduces additional furnishing costs down the line. Deals can also be struck including rent guarantees from vendors to smooth initial void periods.

Lowering total capital outlay provides greater potential yields on the amount invested. And with interest rates still low, it remains an attractive route for financing purchases. At Beech Holdings for example, our rental developments often involve discounts and incentives for early investors. Helping maximise their recurring yields.

Added Value Refurbishments

An alternative way to lift rental yields on UK property investments is by adding value through refurbishments and upgrades. Improving the specification of the building can enable higher market rents to be achieved - without needing to lower the original purchase costs.

Even cosmetic refreshes like installing luxury vinyl flooring, updating kitchens with integrated appliances or retiling bathrooms can warrant £50-100 extra in weekly rent. While more extensive works like loft conversions, extensions or basement dig-outs can transform yields more substantially.

The key is to keep costs below the uplift in annual rent - ensuring the capital spent is justified by the yield boost. Appropriately budging refurbishment costs and factoring in expected new rental income is crucial.

At Beech Holdings our in-house design consultants advise investors on maximising yields through considered upgrades. Balancing rental demand in the area with refurb budgets. Enabling custom strategies.

Optimise Expenses

Of course, the most direct way investors can enhance net rental yields is by reducing their annual expenses. As yields calculate potential profit after costs, cutting recurring bills has a tangible impact.

For example, striving for near-full occupancy by marketing efficiently helps avoid prolonged void periods without income. While seeking tax relief opportunities, shopping insurers to get policy prices down, and negotiating better rates from tradesmen can all contribute.

Most significantly, keeping letting agent fees and property management charges low makes a big difference. This may mean compromising on service levels, but for hands-on landlords willing to be more involved - self-managing assets can really optimise yields.

At the luxury end, operators like Beech achieve economies of scale across portfolios that enable highly attentive management. While still providing investors relief from direct admin responsibilities and therefore maximising the net income derived. So optimising expenses requires balancing costs against quality of service and labour time

Academy Apartments Trafford Manchester Kitchen

Benchmarking Rental Yields

Yield Recommendations

When reviewing rental yields, useful benchmarks exist based on property investor expectations and wider market averages. These provide context on what good UK rental yields tend to look like.

As a general guide, gross yields between 4-8% are considered solid for residential investments. At the lower end, 4% remains favourable versus cash savings rates but brings higher risk. At the upper end, 8% is achievable but relies on strong tenant demand and turnover.

Most professional investors target between 5-7% for a balance of income versus security. Meanwhile across the market as a whole, yields average 3-5% depending greatly on regional property prices.

So when assessing opportunities, profile the target yields against these recommendations. While a 9% yield may seem sky high for example, it could reflect significant voids or high maintenance costs making it less attractive in reality.

At Beech Holdings we enable investors to achieve 8%+ gross yields consistently by handling operations directly. Maximising occupancy and optimising overheads across entire buildings for economies of scale.

Assessing Yield Performance

In addition to fixed benchmark targets, rental yields should be assessed relative to comparable properties in the same area and asset class. This helps classify whether a yield is low, moderate or high given the local marketplace.

For example, an 8% yield would be considered very high for a prime central London development. Yet quite ordinary for a studio flat in a commuter town. Using online listings and portals, profile realistic yields nearby.

Likewise, yields can be checked against industry metrics like the price-to-rent ratio which quantifies the number of years of rent required to cover a property’s value. The lower the better.

This relative grading then signals if assets are over performing or underperforming expectations. Helping investors shortlist the best opportunities and avoid comparative duds misrepresented by their yield.

Yields vs Other Investments

Finally, sound analysis also profiles rental yields against common benchmarks outside of property - like rates on savings, commercial bonds or the stock market's long run return.

These comparisons verify if the required return is sufficient given the capital constraints and illiquidity involved with property. It answers the question - could this money be better invested elsewhere?

For instance, achieving 4-5% net yields on a buy-to-let still fares reasonably well against the FTSE100’s 5-8% long-run return - but with far less volatility. This helps validate the attractiveness for investors ultimately seeking recurring cash flow.

So while property yields are an intrinsic metric on their own, cross-referencing against a broader opportunity set adds an important perspective when evaluating potential returns.

House hanging

Rental Yield Considerations

Sustainability Factors

While projected yields offer useful headline rates of potential return, investors should scrutinise what supports those numbers for real-world sustainability. Important factors include tenant profile, property condition, market prospects and more.

Healthy yields rely on finding good tenants who reliably pay rent on time. Meanwhile, distressed yields may indicate high turnover, voids or troublesome occupants requiring interventions. Reviewing the tenant history where possible gives insight.

Likewise, the underlying condition and specifications of the building itself impact yield consistency. If considerable maintenance is required, this eats into returns. Ensure capex works are budgeted for alongside operating expenses.

Also assess local market conditions using metrics like housing transactions, days on the market and rental growth rates. If rents are rising fast, yields may underestimate future returns. But stagnant or falling rents signal risks.

At Beech Holdings we incorporate these sustainability factors into our underwriting. Targeting premium long-stay tenants via high quality new build units with on-site management. Located in core city zones with strong market depth.

Cost Factors

Rental yields also warrant pragmatic analysis into the many property costs involved that may erode projected net returns. From initial capital outlays to letting fees, insurance, utilities, and tax implications, every aspect contributes to the overall financial picture.

Critically, model expected costs across say a 5-year horizon to fully appreciate profit scenarios after all expenses. Avoid focusing solely on attractive gross yields upfront.

Factor upgrades, periodic maintenance, agency costs and void periods into financial planning when assessing assets. This stress testing guards against unrealistic yield assumptions. Enabling prudent evaluation.

At Beech Holdings our vertically integrated model aims to optimise costs at scale across block managements and developments. Without sacrificing service quality for tenants and investors in core locations.

Risk Factors

Finally, investors should also evaluate rental yield opportunities against key property risks that could undermine returns. Assessing liability, reliance on growth or hidden issues.

For example, restricted parking provision in a development may severely dent tenant demand relative to expectations. Impacting occupancy, voids and yields.

Likewise some assets carry greater inherent risks themselves such as leasehold houses requiring ground rent payments. Or buildings requiring extensive recladding works for fire safety reasons.

Conducting due diligence into title, planning, specifications, contaminations and more provides insight on risks outside the spreadsheet. Protecting against yield erosion later on.

At Beech Holdings our qualified Building Surveyors and Project Managers identify these issues early when scoping sites. Allowing risk mitigation strategies or pricing adjustments that sustain yields. For aftersales and investor services, get in touch - we’ll be happy to help!

Share this article

A leading UK developer for over 20 years

General Enquiries

60 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5EE

+44 (0) 161 694 4942

[email protected]

Investor Enquiries

For single unit and block sale enquiries

+44 (0) 161 791 4600
[email protected]

Owner Occupiers
Building and Land Agents

For building and land sale opportunities

+44 (0) 161 791 4600
[email protected]