Remarkable article praises buy to let and attacks Tories for "killing it"

It is not often that a national newspaper dedicates an article to praising buy to let - and even rarer for the same article, in the Daily Telegraph, to be damning of the political party that the publication traditionally supports.

However Richard Dyson’s piece, published in the wake of Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement announcements, is one such article.

We reproduce it in full here:

“The Tories' complete annihilation of buy-to-let as a form of investment – unexpected, unwelcome, unreasoned – is a play to the politics of envy.

“Private landlords are deeply unpopular. Caricatured as exploitative and greedy, they've become the arch-villain in Britain's broken housing market, the biggest obstruction to younger people who want to become home owners.

“Landlords force tenants to pay extortionate rents, goes the argument, while driving house prices ever further out of their reach.

“These investors are parasites, enriched and engorged with the cash of the young and poor. And they are abetted by vastly generous tax breaks. Or so it is said.

“The Telegraph, almost entirely alone, has questioned the Tories' attack on buy-to-let ever since George Osborne announced the withdrawal of mortgage interest relief for private property investors in July.

“Every article we have published since, especially where we feature individual landlords who make their case, has resulted in a flood of abuse on social media and elsewhere.

“Interestingly, the rage and spite are directed only at private landlords – at the middle class, ordinarily well-off families who have decided to buy a second property to let as part of their pension planning, or because they want eventually to give it to their child.

“The bile is also directed at landlords who make small, full-time businesses out of running a portfolio of properties (oftern in areas where there is high tenant demand but little demand from owner-occupiers). 

“But the most telling point is that there is no such vilification of corporate buy-to-let.

“Big institutional investors, such as insurance firms, asset managers or pension funds, that want to go into buy-to-let on an industrial scale don't attract any criticism whatsoever. Nor have they been hit by any of the Tory policies.

“These industrial-scale buy-to-let investors will continue to enjoy full tax relief on mortgage interest, long after it has been withdrawn from individual, middle-class investors. And industrial-scale buy-to-let will also be exempt from the huge rise in stamp duty announced in the Autumn Statement and effective from April 1 2016.

“The truth is that the people who most condemn buy-to-let tend to be those who wish they had done it themselves.

“They would still do it if they could afford to, and if the Tories hadn't killed it.

“It is about envy.

“It's not in human nature to envy a faceless, gigantic insurance company that owns 6,000 flats. But it is human nature to envy the couple next door who also own two buy-to-lets further down the street.

“That's why, when people attack private landlords (or, arguably, any group of wealthy individuals), they do so with such visceral emotion.

“Browse buy-to-let articles on the internet and see for yourself. The rage, the glee, the torrents of vindictive spite – what else but envy could provoke all that?

“In a peculiar twist, the Tories are now playing towards this angry crowd. Mr Osborne will raise billions of pounds in additional revenue from a group whose striking unpopularity is motivated in the large part by envy of wealth and success.

“One irony in this situation is that so many Tory MPs are themselves landlords. Another is that so many private landlords are Conservative voters.

“But the biggest irony of all is that property investors were terrified, ahead of the general election, at what a Labour victory might mean for their businesses.

“Could Labour – in whatever guise – have delivered any more devastating an attack on their interests?”

  • Peter Hendry

    Do agree. Shooting the private landlord at a time when they are desperately needed to provide a supply of properties for rent smacks of desperation! Where is the policy for increasing the supply of houses available both to buy and to let? It's nowhere to be seen, at present.

    Surely a whole new housing policy is what is more desperately needed.

    Stable price levels, as well as fair but adequate returns for the smaller investors, are essential if corporate greed is to be held in check - unless the real policy of this conservative government is to favour the corporate financial institutions at every turn?

    For a full explation of what needs to be done In preference and why, please Google The Hendry Solution.

  • ken hume

    Well spotted Graham , very interesting article, many others know that this is true.
    The crabs in a bucket argument springs to mind.
    If they really wanted to kill buy to let, they woulds have stamped on corporate buy to let, im guessing that they have too many friends involved there.
    The implications for supply are profound and will only be seen in time as supply for tenants drops and inevitably rents rise- smashing the chance for many first time buyers to save for a deposit

    Jon  Tarrey

    Why don't we just build more houses? Wouldn't that solve the supply issue?

    Apparently that's too logical for the people we have in chance at the moment.

  • Richard White

    I said right from the start that this party masquerading as 'conservatives' are nothing of the sort.

    They are just another bunch of pseudo-socialists intent on a ruinous policy of shifting money from the people that earn it to lost causes and people that have no interest in earning it. The tragedy of it all is that this is the only deal on the table for the public. Even if the unelectable, overgrown students on the opposition benches were vaguely credible, their intent is just the same only via slightly different methods.

    - wilful borrowing of more than it can even hope to repay
    - tax grabbing from the middle classes
    - discouraging savings by making them much less attractive
    - making no attempt at controlling the monster that is the welfare state

    Are these the hallmarks of Conservatives? I just wonder how the leftists ever managed to, by stealth, manoeuvre themselves into every area of public influence and march us all down the road to ruin.

    Jon  Tarrey

    What a load of nonsense. If you think this government, one of the most right-wing in history, are a bunch of pseudo-socialists then you really don't know what you're talking about.

    The idea that people earn money from property is ludicrous. You don't earn money, you either get lucky or you don't. You either see house prices go up or you don't.

    Labour aren't proposing to tax grab from the middle classes, they are proposing those at the top pay their fair share - you know, go after the corporate tax dodgers and companies who plough their profits into offshore accounts. What's so wrong with that? And what's your alternative to tax? A free-for-all, every man for himself, dog eat dog?

    The welfare state isn't a monster, quite the opposite. It might have been abused by some, and demonised by the tabloids, but it's something we must seek to protect at all costs. That's not about being a lefty, that's just good sense and common decency. If you look after the people at the very bottom, you create a better society. Just look at the model in Germany and Scandinavia - democratic socialism. They're not doing too badly, are they?

    All of us our just one step away from being reliant on the welfare system. We break it up at our peril. Channel 5 and the Sun might have you believe that everyone on benefits is a workshy scrounger, but I thought you'd have too much intelligence to fall for that line Richard.


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