David Smith, Solicitor and Policy Director for the Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) says in his New Year message: “It is no exaggeration to say 2015 has turned into an annus horribilis for the residential landlord.”
The RLA claim that 36% of their members’ subscription money goes into an annual fighting fund, amounting to over £600,000, which the organisation uses to run its campaigning team in support of landlords’ interests.
This last year they RLA staff met with dozens of MPs, says Mr Smith, including Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP and new Shadow Housing Minister John Healey MP, as well as members of the House of Lords. In addition, they responded to dozens of Government consultations and lobbied on issues from Right to Rent to Flood-Re exclusion.
By attacking the Private Rented Sector, Smith says, 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.”
George Osborne, says David Smith, has “effectively declared war on individual landlords. His three pronged attack hits the very foundations.”
“Mortgage interest relief will be cut to basic rate tax progressively from 2017. Next April sees the 3% stamp duty surcharge for rental property, and Capital Gains Tax changes are in the pipeline too.
“It would appear the PRS has become little more than a cash cow for the Treasury.
“And in case it had slipped your notice, February brings the launch of “Right to Rent” checks for landlords to control illegal immigration. There’s a new Housing Bill in Parliament, your insurance will not be covered by the domestic FloodRe scheme and if you have benefit tenants, Universal Credit has a wealth warning for you too.
“The Bank of England’s consultation on buy-to-let lending will be getting a stout defence for landlords from the RLA.
“In Wales it’s all change too. If you thought that a Labour government was a safe haven for landlords then Wales proves otherwise.
“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.
“This year the RLA has fought to protect landlords as much as possible from the proposed legislation being even more overzealous; narrowly avoiding the abolition of S21, agency fees and rent controls.
“… Don’t expect a government U-turn on any of these issues – politics doesn’t work like that! Discussion, argument, negotiation, amendment are the processes which in the end produce reasonable agreement.
“The demand for rental property is as strong as ever – from the public and local authorities. However 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.”
David Smith LLP, Policy Director RLA