The buy-to-let sector has taken on much of the scorn of governmental changes to the property market, with tax increases and fluctuating house prices, and this has all but nearly taken the sector out of existence. The Guardian has reported in a recent article of theirs that sales on property in buy-to-let has decreased by nearly 50% in the UK. The leading banking body, The Council of Mortgage Lenders, have downgraded their forecast amidst growing concerns from landlords who are withdrawing from the uy-to-let sector due to tax changes and more restrictive lending rules.
The banking body reported that buy-to-let had a weak start to the beginning of this year, with lending falling faster than expected as landlords were scared off by the major tax and lending rules changes introduced by governmental measures implemented in the last few years in order to aid the housing crisis affecting the nation. The data produced the the CML has come after resukts from surveys and indices suggesting the housing market is running out of steam. However, on the flip side of the coin, the heavy bombardment against buy-to-let has meant a ray of hope for younger buyers, as this has given them a boost onto the first step of the property ladder. CML noted that property purchase activity was increasing due to the prominence of first-time buyers, with figures up 8% in the year up to April.
The article in the Guardian goes on to reveal more information from the banking body, which represents banks and building societies, with buy-to-let homebuying activity being ”nearly half what it was a year ago,” averaging around 6,000 purchases a month over the last year. The number of landlord purchases involving a mortgage was 5,300 in April of this year, compared to 10,300 in February 2016 and 11,800 in July 2015. With these statistics in mind, CML have altered their forecast for buy-to-let lending from £38billion being lent in 2017 and 2018 to £35billion in 2017 and £33billion in 2018. CML has sent out a warning against any more harsh changes imposed on landlords, stating that these figures ”re-emphasise the case for avoiding further changes to the tax and regulatory framework until the effect of these already in train have been properly assessed.”
Some landlords have complained about the tax changes, as they claim letting will no longer make any financial sense as it would lead them making a net loss. Currently, landlords are able to deduct mortgage interest and other finance-related costs from their rental income before calculating their tax liability. However, this interest relief is going to be cut from 100% to 0%, meaning that the income tax on a person’s property profits and any other sources of income will be added up, and then they will be granted a ”tax credit” worth 20% of the mortgage interest cost to offset against income tax. With regards to buy-to-let, a spokesman from CML stated: ”For the time being, regulators and policymakers have not registered concern with regards to buy-to-let sluggishness. We expect to see the market continuing to be soft, as the implemented measures work through.”
Buy-to-let landlords have suffered a great deal from the austerity measures meted out by the government. It seems to be hanging on by a thread, but for how long will it last? And could the government ease up on any of its changes that have been and willl further damage the sector? Or is it for the best in an ailing housing situation? Watch this space.