Square pegs and round holes? Why human interaction is key when it comes to buy-to-let

8 February 2024

For intermediary use only.

We caught up with our Head of Real Estate Finance, Jayne Follows, on the recent market conditions in the buy-to-let sector and why human interaction is key.

With the difficult market conditions in the buy-to-let sector over the last 12 months, is it worthwhile considering a different type of lender for your buy-to-let (BTL) applications? Cambridge & Counties Bank is well known in the industry for commercial property finance and asset finance, but what about BTL? We don’t add our products to sourcing systems and we don’t offer online portals that provide an auto-accept or decline. Alongside a range of property finance, we specialise in BTL lending to experienced landlords. So, what can we do?


Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room, which is rate. You may be wondering why our products don’t show on the sourcing systems. For us, it’s all about your client’s circumstances and having a deeper understanding of their business requirements and future aspirations. We do not publish rates on sourcing systems because our view is that every deal is different, and we make our decisions based on risk and the complexity of a deal. There are some advantages to this model, the most obvious one being that we avoid trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Brokers want lenders they can trust. Not only does this mean the client gets the individual case over the line, but it also further strengthens the relationship with the broker.

If they know their adviser can complete the deal, even if it is a slightly more challenging case, then they are more likely to return to that broker in the future.

Jayne Follows - CCB Head of REF
Jayne Follows, Head of Real Estate Finance

Limited company BTL

Industry data from BVA BDRC shows that there has been a steady increase over recent years in the proportion of BTL business written to landlords operating as limited companies. The driver has been the change in government policy, which came about from the phasing out of mortgage interest tax relief from 2017. This meant that sole trading landlords were no longer able to deduct mortgage expenses from rental income. Limited company landlords often manage substantial portfolios, necessitating larger loans and sometimes, product variety within this sector is constrained.

Landlords holding properties through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) limited company essentially manage their portfolio as SMEs and as such, consider it their main occupation. This is exactly the target audience we can help. We offer non-regulated lending to experienced property investors who make a full-time living from their property business. Many of these deals can be complex as property portfolios have built up over several years. These types of applications do not respond very well to online portals and human intervention is key to help shape the deal, which is where our experienced team and manual underwriting comes in, considering each case on its merits.

Commercial Investor

Larger borrowing and unlimited portfolios

Limited company landlords often have larger portfolios and need access to larger loans too. However, this sector is limited in terms of product availability and is often priced depending on the customer’s circumstances. Cambridge & Counties Bank not only offers lending for an unlimited property portfolio and borrowing of up to £15 million per customer but also has an experienced team that is used to managing sizeable loan discussions, which is imperative. Lenders bridge the gap between those SMEs searching for help and those who can provide it. Our unique strength is our ability to meet the increasingly complex needs of the BTL landlord, which is why we choose to avoid being included in sourcing systems. We have worked hard to produce a model that will support growth to the SME market and provide a different option for your clients who don’t fall into the typical BTL arena. So don’t try and push a square peg into a round hole, get in touch with our experienced team who would be happy to help in providing your clients with the bespoke solutions it needs.

Get in touch with our experienced team

For properties in Scotland, our minimum loan size is currently £500k, while for the rest of the country, it is £250k. We understand the unique financial landscape in Scotland and, subject to our standard lending criteria (which can be found on our website), we are open to discussions on tailoring finance solutions to meet specific requirements. For enquiries, please send us a message using the form below.

    Send an enquiry

    Fields marked with * are mandatory.

    The personal information you supply to Cambridge & Counties Bank in this form will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 to help your enquiry. We may share this information with other departments, or law enforcement organisations to improve service delivery or for the prevention of crime and fraud where the law allows this. Further information on how we handle your personal information can be found on our Privacy page.

    For general enquiries please contact:

    Call us on:

    0344 225 3939

    email us at:
    Fax us on:

    0116 254 4637

    Find us at:

    Cambridge & Counties Bank
    Charnwood Court
    5B New Walk
    Leicester LE1 6TE

    Existing customers please contact:

    Call us on:
    email us at: