Buy-to-let landlords may be forced to raise rents or sell their properties due to the government’s punitive new tax regime, says a specialist lawyer.
Graham Ireland, private client partner at Lancashire-based WHN Solicitors, has accused ministers’ plans to tighten taxes as using landlords as scapegoats for problems faced by first time buyers.
Graham believes one of the real reasons people cannot get onto the property ladder is that lenders are demanding higher interest rates for buyers who wish to borrow higher percentage mortgages.
His comments follow fresh research from the National Association of Landlords showing the new rules will mean one in four UK landlords (440,000) face a tax hike from the 20 per cent basic rate they currently pay, to the 40 per cent higher rate once the new rules come into force from April 2017.
When the changes are fully phased in in 2021, landlords will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest payments, or any other finance-related costs from their turnover for tax purposes. Currently, landlords can deduct mortgage interest payments as a business cost, along with insurance premiums, letting agent fees, and maintenance and property repair costs.
Graham, who also heads up WHN’s conveyancing department, commented: “We have two landlord clients with large portfolios who have decided to sell some of their properties because of the upcoming changes and the changes that have been implemented over the last few years. One of them has over 30 properties. Their view is that the government seems determined to penalise landlords.
“They have no doubt that the changes will result in rents being increased, partly because of supply and demand and partly because landlords will need to recover some of their extra costs by raising rents.”
Tim Melia, director of Melbro Group Ltd, which owns and manages both commercial and residential premises across East Lancashire, added: “The continued changes in legislation are putting greater strain on landlords and have made it so difficult that it’s no longer worth the effort to continue. We already break even at best on the residential element of our portfolio, but in some years have lost money and additional planned changes will only make it more difficult.
“The government sees landlords as the reason why many first time buyers cannot get on the property market, but the main problem is the fact that first time buyers are penalised by high percentage mortgages demanded by lenders.”
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