Private rented sector must be allowed to grow

Nia Williams

March 23, 2010

The PRS is a key element of the Government’s future housing strategy as the provision of new homes has fallen behind housing demand. But 750,000 homes in the PRS are below standard, which roughly equates to a quarter of the total.

Around 58% of ARLA members flagged the Government approach to expansion of the PRS as being the key element affecting the property sector in the next year at the organisation’s annual conference.

In its submission to the Chancellor ahead of this week’s budget, ARLA has urged Number 11 to promulgate a business-focused approach to the sector and to review prohibitive barriers to further investment such as Stamp Duty.

Ian Potter, operations manager, said: “Landlords must treated as the businesses they have now become and afford them the taxation criteria which will incentivise the improvement of stock, and therefore the conditions which tenants live in.”

Such a policy change could focus on:

– Removal of VAT on the purchase of materials and labour to improve older property

– Introduction of capital allowances for landlords improving older housing stock

– Increase the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) to include the installation of central heating systems

– Stamp Duty ‘clawback’ on older properties which need capital investment

– Re-assessment of the “slab” structure of Stamp Duty to create a fairer system

Ian Potter continued: “Landlords are not treated as businesses within the fiscal regime. This can be a real disincentive to producing well managed, well maintained property for certain parts of the market.

“The Government must devise incentives to facilitate the growth and improvement of property portfolios. Our agents would like to see changes made to the tax regime to allow landlords to see their portfolios as businesses, rather than just investments as this will ultimately improve rented consumer homes.”

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