New housing policies affecting the private rented sector, including longer tenancies, boosting the supply of much needed housing and plans to clamp down on rogue landlords, have been broadly welcomed.
However, landlords fear that they still face tough challenges ahead relating to tax changes which could push up rents at a time when the new housing white paper, unveiled by communities secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) yesterday, aims to deliver more affordable homes to rent.
Steve Bolton, founder of Platinum Property Partners and co-leading the Axe the Tenant Tax coalition - a crowd-funded coalition of individuals and organisations who represent more than 150,000 landlords - agrees with the government that “a fair and affordable rental market is crucial”.
He believes that it is encouraging to see more support for longer tenancies, as they benefit both renters, who have greater security and peace of mind, and buy-to-let landlords, who can manage their portfolio more successfully knowing they are less likely to face void periods.
“We absolutely need to get more homes built, and faster. Improving property supply – both in the homeowner and rental market – is key if we are to slow rising house prices and rents,” he said.
Yet, while the government commits to increasing the availability of homes in the white paper, Bolton fears that buy-to-let tax changes due to come into effect in April threaten to “seriously derail investment in the rental sector”.
He commented: “The proposed tax changes will hit private landlords’ profitability and inevitably cause some to leave the market altogether, restricting the number of rental homes available.
“How can the government say they are committed to improving homeownership and reducing rents while simultaneously introducing a ‘tenant tax’ that will only result in higher rental costs, and therefore making it harder for people to save for a deposit?
“All the good thinking in the white paper is completely derailed by this hypocritical approach.”
According to the white paper, almost two thirds - 65% - of private tenants are happy with their tenure, compared to 48% in 2004-05.
“It’s clear that landlords are providing an essential service – yet they are being squarely punished for it,” he added. “If the government truly wants to improve homeownership levels, and make renting more affordable for all, they need to abolish this ludicrous tax change sooner rather than later.”