SPECIAL FEATURE: Landlords tax for benefit

Sarah Davidson

September 16, 2015

One thing that seems to have slipped everyone’s notice is what the government has done with respect to the living wage.

Instead of the taxpayer paying benefits to make up for a low minimum wage shortfall, employers now have to pay more.

I imagine the government could apply the same logic to buy-to-let. Instead of the taxpayer paying housing benefits, while landlords profit, it could tax landlords and use the resulting income to pay housing benefits. This has a certain symmetry.

Of course, as interest rates rise, landlord profits will be squeezed. The private rental sector expects to charge ever higher rents. Well good luck with that.

Tenants are paying just about as much as they can. Consider the resulting headlines about ‘greedy landlords’. The government might even reintroduce rent controls.

This is a Conservative government mind you. If Corbyn and Co get into power this will probably be the least they will do.

They are even talking about private rental sector right to buy.

They might prove to be unelectable, but they will be banging the drum for reform in opposition, and by doing so they will raise awareness.

Consider the numbers. 29,000 landlords have now signed their petition. Private sector tenants could probably muster 100 times as many, if mobilised to do so.

The government probably now looks on the private rental sector as a fatted calf ready for the slaughter, as it increasingly taxes its income and its capital gains.

Then we have the Bank of England looking to expand its influence over buy-to-let and the banks that service it. Landlords continue to live through interesting times.

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