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RLA: Government has “declared war” on landlords

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has accused the Government of declaring war on individual landlords and described 2015 as an “annus horribilis” for the residential landlord.

In a New Year message RLA policy director David Smith said the association met with dozens of MPs last year, responded to numerous Government consultations and lobbied on issues from Right to Rent to Flood Re exclusion. 

Just over a third (36%) of members’ subscription goes into the RLA’s annual fighting fund of more than £600,000 that runs the association’s campaigns team. The balance of the funding runs the RLA helpline, develops training, creates documents, produces the magazine and helps run and update the website.

“As it says on the RLA website, we provide national support for landlords: not working on a single topic like mortgage interest relief, but all those issues – national and local – likely to affect the way we run our renting businesses,” said Smith, “By attacking the private rented sector chancellor George Osborne is attacking the very people who are providing homes for those who cannot afford to buy and those for whom councils cannot find a home. He is attacking those of us who help social landlords when they can’t cope with demand and even those who have opened their doors to cope with the scores of people rendered homeless by the recent floods.”

Smith said Osborne had effectively declared war on individual landlords and that it would appear the PRS has become little more than a cash cow for the Treasury.

On top of the upcoming changes to income tax and stamp duty, February brings the launch of Right to Rent checks for landlords to control illegal immigration. 

“In Wales it’s all change too. If you thought that a Labour government was a safe haven for landlords then Wales proves otherwise,” said Smith, “A new landlord registration and licensing scheme will prove to be a bureaucratic bowl of spaghetti that will cost good landlords and their tenants and encourage landlords to leave the sector whilst the foundations have been laid that will make the sectors fundamentally different between England and Wales.”

Smith said the RLA spent 2015 fighting to protect landlords from proposed legislation to abolish section 21 notices, agency fees and rent controls.

“On all of these issues and many more your RLA is leading the way. Don’t expect a government U-turn on any of these issues – politics doesn’t work like that,” said Smith, “Discussion, argument, negotiation, amendment are the processes which in the end produce reasonable agreement.”

Smith warned the changes George Osborne proposes will have knock-on effects throughout society, with social housing and build-to-rents projects first to be hit – with the prospect of falling supply and rising rents looming for tenants.

“We need to be clear. There is and will continue to be a PRS. There are challenges ahead and there is no doubt that as landlords you need to look long and hard at what is best for your business,” he concluded. 

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    this article is absolutely spot on.
    I challenged the Minister in the Welsh Assembly about the new proposals, but as usual, they are masters of not answering the question directly?
    I was curious to know how the regulations were going to deal with rogue landlords, many of which don't declare their income and therefore are not traceable, but cunningly, this part of my query wasn't answered to my satisfaction.
    As usual, it will hit the genuine landlord who complies with the law and declares his for her income to the HMRC.

  • icon

    The worst part of all this government policy is targeting SMALL landlords. Note that the 3% extra stamp duty doesn't apply to those with more than 15 properties!!!! Since when did governments deliberately act against small businesses in favour of large ones??

    And I thought small business owners were the bedrock of Conservative Party support!

    Seems government policy is to corporatise private rented sector; eliminate small landlords in favour of institutional landlords.

    I am fed up with the behaviour of big corporates (don't you love the banks) and government acting together.

    So Labour and the Tories are against small landlords; what does Mr Farage have to say? I think there is a political opportunity here and I don't think he'd ignore it!

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    It is definitely 'open season' on landlords from all parts of the UK?

  • Carla Keegans

    Interesting article. Some thoughts... The PRS is now larger than the social rent sector and so any Govt. will be examining it with a view to how it helps/could better help fulfill the statutory requirement for meeting housing need. And also how to collect as much taxation as possible (there are an estimated 1 million landlords not registered). In this context, the PRS will continue to be under the spot-light and subject to regulations. Thinking longer-term, I wonder if the Govt. reforms affecting landlords (and I agree many of them will hit smaller landlords) are actually designed to change the make-up of private landlords; from many small ones to fewer large ones. After all, this would mean easier and potentially more taxation collected, and easier regulation roll-out. A Conservative government would never say this outright, but if you read between the lines...this seems like their longer-term strategy.

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    A group of 600 landlords are funding an attempt to get a Judicial Review to overturn the removal of the 40% tax allowance on the Mortgage interest. This is an unfair and possibly illegal move by the Chancellor .We hope that they will be successful and I will be of course be supporting them accordingly.

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