RLA: Budget failed tenants

Michael Lloyd

October 30, 2018

The Residential Landlords Association has claimed that Chancellor Philip Hammond has failed tenants in the private rental sector with his Autumn Budget.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, thought the government needed to take action to help tenants buy.

He said: “Today’s Budget fails the country’s private tenants. Whilst the Chancellor again outlined the government’s desire to boost homeownership, he failed to address the needs of the millions of people who cannot or do not want to rent.

“With the demand for private rented housing rising whilst supply is shrinking, we needed pro-growth taxation measures to ensure that tenants have an adequate supply of housing to choose from.

“Despite being given innovative suggestions to protect tenants in their homes, encourage sale to tenants, and improve energy efficiency, we got a damp squib with little more than promises of further consultations.

“Eventually the government will need to stop consulting on the housing crisis and take action.”

Maxim Cohen, chief executive of The UK Adviser, a mortgage adviser support franchise, agreed tenants will lose out and landlords are still felling the squeeze of the stamp duty surcharge.

He said: “There is no reprieve for buy-to-let landlords who continue to feel the squeeze following stamp duty surcharges and the removal of lettings relief on capital gains tax – this will discourage buy-to-let landlords that rely on mortgage facilities.

“However, it is the tenants that will ultimately lose out, as landlords are forced to stall on plans to increase their portfolios. The rental market continues to grow at pace, and fewer landlords means those that rent have less options.

“However, ultimately the withdrawal of some buy-to-let landlords will assist first-time buyers, who have been given an even greater hand getting on the property ladder as stamp duty is scrapped on shared ownership property up to £500,000.

“What’s more the retrospective removal of the charge will be a boost to buyers who have already put pen to paper.

“They will also continue to benefit from the help to buy scheme, which has been extended until 2023 in order to maintain the development rate of new houses, and provide positivity and stability in the coming months.

“The injection of an additional £500m for the Housing Infrastructure Fund will enable the building of 650,000 more homes and provide further stability to the market.”

Russell Gould, chief executive, Vesta Property, also felt let down by Hammond due to the lack of tax breaks for landlords.

He said: “We are disappointed that once again property has taken a back seat and the much needed tax breaks to support landlords who provide the nation’s tenants with valuable rental homes have been ignored.

“The move to provide lettings relief limited to properties where the owner is in shared occupancy with the tenant only goes so far. It doesn’t provide any support to the wider landlord community.

“The private rented sector is fulfilling a vital service in the UK by providing essential rental properties for millions of households unable to find or buy their own property and access local authority housing.

“What the Chancellor has failed to recognise is that the existing taxation on rental properties hurts everyone in the long run. We have already seen thousands of private landlords leave the sector since April 2016 when stamp duty was increased.”

The National Landlords Association stated that approximately 380,000 landlords could flood the market with properties, putting tenants’ homes at risk.

This is while causing significant disruption to the lives of longer-term tenants through increased distances from schools, places of work and communities.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) believes that rents are likely to rise by 3% annually for the next five years, outstripping rises in house prices.

Gould added: “It’s not just stamp duty; landlords have faced increasing pressures from mounting regulation and continued reductions in cash flow due to Section 24 of the Finance Act that removes the landlord’s ability to deduct the legitimate expense of mortgage interest, so many landlords with debt have to pay more income tax.

“Creative solutions from the private sector will continue to benefit both landlords and tenants but until the government loosens the noose around the neck of landlords, we will all face an even greater challenge in the coming years.”

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