Ian Wilson, chief executive officer of Martin & Co, has given David Cameron’s government a “two out of 10” score for its performance in its first year in office.
In a ‘scorecard’ exercise in property magazine Estates Gazette, looking at how the past 12 months of government policies have impacted on different aspects of the residential property industry, Wilson was asked to comment on Cameron’s performance in the lettings sector.
In just a year there has been the announcement of a cut in landlords’ mortgage interest tax breaks, a stamp duty surcharge on buy to let purchases, mandatory Right To Rent immigration checks and changes to Wear and Tear allowances too.
Wilson is scathing in his critique, saying: “The Conservative government has failed the private rental sector. Unintended consequences of the reforms are emerging, with landlords fighting to complete on properties before April, pushing first time buyers aside. House prices are artificially high in the UK because of restrictions on land use dating back to World War II.
“The private rental sector has been superb in providing housing solutions for those unable to buy a home and as such, the sector has doubled in the last 20 years, organically and with no government support. Individuals have invested in the buy to let sector out of their own pocket, made feasible by allowing the interest on a Buy to Let loan to be offset as a business expense.
“The changes the Conservatives are imposing have not only caught people off guard, undermining confidence in a highly valuable sector of the market, but have deliberately penalised small time landlords, the stalwarts of the sector. Meanwhile corporate organisations, who have offered little in the way of housing solutions, retain all tax benefits.
“The government needs to think hard before using a blunt instrument in a fragile housing market as it could have far longer term implications.”