UK government buy-to-let tax cut

Could buy-to-let be set to receive more government support?

As well as pushing for tax cuts, housing secretary Michael Gove has acknowledged how crucial the buy-to-let sector is for the UK housing market. 

In what seems to be a glimmer of hope for a boost in support for the buy-to-let sector at the weekend, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, agreed that having a “thriving private rented sector” with decent homes was important for the future of housing provision.

Responding to a question put to him by Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) – which has been particularly vocal in calling for more government backing for the rental market – Gove accepted that “different types of tenure” were vital to “an effective housing market”.

“A route to homeownership, a private rented sector that facilitates labour mobility among other things, and socially rented homes in order to help people who are, for whatever reason, eligible for, and deserving of, that level of support,” said Gove as part of the Conservative Party Conference.

Enhancing relationships between landlords and tenants

The vast majority of people involved in the buy-to-let space would agree that the priority for most landlords is to remain compliant of any legal requirements, while also providing good quality accommodation at a reasonable price for their tenants.

This is another aspect that Gove alluded to in his comments, after stating that the Conservative government has always argued for a “balanced market” for both landlords and tenants.

“Actually, the overwhelming majority of landlords want a relationship with their tenants where their tenants stay,” he said. “Easily the best thing is to have a long-term relationship with someone who pays the rent, looks after the property and where there are those ties.”

Much-needed boost for buy-to-let

The UK’s buy-to-let sector has certainly been on the receiving end of some of the government’s harshest tax changes in recent years, from putting a stop to landlords claiming mortgage interest tax relief to maintaining a stamp duty levy on property investments.

Other unpopular changes are also linked to the Renters Reform Bill, which is yet to be revealed in full but is currently set to overhaul the current eviction system for buy-to-let landlords and tenants, while also making changes surrounding potential discrimination in the rental market.

While the sector has arguably continued to thrive following these tax changes, with the UK housing market seeing record house price surges and higher-than-ever tenant demand in the rental market, these punitive measures have done nothing to boost such an important sector.

Numerous industry bodies and professionals, including the NRLA, have called for more support from the government, particularly in recent months, to try and keep greater numbers of buy-to-let landlords operating in the market and providing crucial housing for the millions of tenants that need it.

From cutting the stamp duty burden to reversing the Section 24 tax changes to allow landlords to once again claim mortgage interest relief, there is much the government could do to incentivise investment in UK property, and therefore not only boost the quality of rental homes on offer but also the quantity.

A thriving market

Ben Beadle said: “The Housing Secretary is right to acknowledge the importance of a thriving rental market alongside all other tenures. However, the only way to achieve this is to develop policies that can secure the confidence of the vast majority of responsible landlords.

“When section 21 repossessions end, landlords need certainty that the courts will more swiftly process possession claims where there is good cause.

“Alongside, this, we need to reform a tax system which is penalising the provision of the very homes renters are struggling to find.”

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