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Landlords have been a ‘political football’, claims broker

Landlords have been a ‘political football’, claims broker

Landlords being used as a “political football” could be dangerous for the housing market, a mortgage broker has warned.

During the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) Great Mortgage Debate on 15th September, a survey of the audience found that 73% believed the government is unfairly targeting landlords with its present policies.

Speaking at the event, Andrew Montlake, director at mortgage broker Coreco Group, claimed that landlords had unfairly suffered at the hands of the government.

“Landlords have been a political football that’s been kicked around and blamed for the fundamental failure of successive governments [to really] have anything that resembles a decent housing policy.”

Andrew suggested that the Prudential Regulation Authority’s proposals for new minimum standards in buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage underwriting could prove to be a step too far for some landlords.

“It’s important that things don’t go too far and that we don’t destabilise the whole thing.  

“…All of this together could be quite dangerous … We don’t want to give landlords an excuse to all sell at the same time and cause some issues.”

In the 2015 summer budget, the government announced restrictions on tax relief for BTL mortgage interest payments from April 2017.

Andrew explained that many landlords were not aware of how expensive these impending changes may be.

“…I think a lot of landlords [don’t actually] realise what effect [these] changes are going to have.

“They have their head in the sand still.

“And I think … in three or four years’ time when they start seeing their profit going down and down, they’re going to start wondering, and they need to do something about it now.”

In April, the government also introduced a 3% rise in stamp duty land tax for buyers purchasing a second property.

From the audience, John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, suggested that these changes may be responsible for a sharp decline in landlord confidence and a reduction in purchases through BTL mortgages.

John agreed that diminishing returns may reduce the appeal of the landlord sector.

“…Where are these people that live in private-rented property going to live if landlords aren’t prepared to make the supply available because the returns aren’t there?”

Meanwhile, Charles Haresnape, group managing director of residential mortgages at Aldermore, complained that landlords were suffering as a result of decades of housing policy mistakes.

“I think that effectively the landlords are deckhands who are taking up the slack of poor long-term housing policy.”

Andrew was also critical of government policy, but offered a solution to the supply issue.

“It’s just papering over the cracks and what we need is a proper long-term housing policy and maybe something that’s cross-party.

“It’s a long-term plan fronted by a housing minister that’s actually in situ for the whole term of parliament.”

Charles believed that the housing shortage had initially occurred as a result of Margaret Thatcher’s decision to sell-off council houses.

However, Kate Faulkner, owner of property consultancy Designs on Property, insisted that landlords had been unfairly blamed for a lack of social housing.

“They are being unfairly scapegoated, and I’ll tell you the one bit that really winds me up is when they are accused of pocketing housing benefit,” Kate stated.

“Landlords don’t go around and force people to rent from them.”

Kate suggested that recent levies on landlords were evidence that people misunderstand how wealthy many landlords actually are.

“…They’re being hit by several different departments and nobody’s sat and actually worked out the cost … [which] is horrendous from a landlord’s perspective.

“I think they’re being caught in the crossfire and I just think there is a complete lack of understanding of what an investor earns from property.”

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