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Our representation to HM Treasury ahead of Autumn budget

Wednesday 10 October 2018

We've submitted our representation to HM Treasury ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond's 2018 Autumn Budget announcement which is expected towards the end of October.

In our submission, we make our case as to why the Government should be offering more support for lettings agents and landlords, not more barriers to doing business. With the Private Rented Sector (PRS) making up a very significant and growing section of the housing market, it's important that tenants are protected by keeping knowledgeable, well qualified letting agents in jobs. This includes recognising that professional agents provide a valuable service to landlords and tenants, for example removing much of the burden on landlords to keep up with legislation, and ensuring high standards across rental properties and protection for tenants. 

As the Tenant Fees Bill continues its progress through Parliament, we continue to fight for the professionals working in the industry and make our case for why they should be able to charge reasonable fees for services that cost them time and money to provide. We cite examples of what kind of fees should be spared from the sweeping list of of cuts to chargeable services that lettings agents will be able to charge for. 

We plead with the Chancellor to recognise that if the Government continue to put financial barriers in the way of becoming a lettings agent, or staying in the market, standards will drop. It's inevitable that there would be a significant increase in the number of landlords going it alone who are often unaware, or unable, to keep up with the considerable amount of legislation for the sector. 

The resulting loss of jobs from firms quitting altogether or reducing their number of branches would also impact on revenue for the Exchequer, and lead to a rise in rents for tenants. 

We also call upon the Government to reconsider the plethora of recent tax changes which have made the Private Rented Sector a hostile place for landlords, with many now finding it difficult to justify remaining in the industry. We want to see the Government scrap the 3% surcharge on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for landlords and revoke the mortgage interest relief changes which also has negative implication for tenants, with rent increases applied by landlords to recoup their losses. Furthermore with rents rising tenants will find it increasingly tough to save to buy a property of their own, again resulting in less revenue for the Treasury on SDLT.  

We push for a reintroduction of the Landlord's Energy Saving Allowance, to make it easier for landlords to make energy efficiency improvements to the property, which will help with reducing tenants utilities bills and help the Government reach their energy performance targets for 2020.

Amongst the furore of bad press for Universal Credit (UC), we'd like to see tenants given more options in terms of the regularity of payments and given a choice of how they would like the housing element of their benefit paid - to themselves or direct to the landlord, We argue that if landlords knew they could have the housing element of UC paid directly to them, they would be encouraged to rent more of their properties to those in receipt of the benefit. It would also help tenants budget and go some way towards helping reduce homelessness. 

With the PRS making up a ever-growing proportion of the housing market, renting properties out must be treated as a business operation like any other, rather than classing it as 'unearned income'. Landlords should also be able to take advantage of Business Asset Rollover Relief which would help them to reinvest in more properties, thereby stimulate the market and ensuring future supply. Landlords missed out on the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reductions that other business benifitted from in 2016. We'd like to see this changed to include landlords. Futhermore we suggest that the introduction of a tapered system of CGT based on 'years owned' would encourage landlords to hold on to properties long-term, which would ensure a steady supply of rental properties. 

Read our full submission