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Government needs to lift landlords not demonise them

by: Shaun Church, director, Private Finance
  • 01/03/2017
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Government needs to lift landlords not demonise them
The UK is a nation of homeowners. That has always been the case. Through recession and growth, boom and bust, the desire to own our own bricks and mortar has never wavered.

But if the Housing White Paper, unveiled earlier this month, is anything to go by the government’s belief that that is achievable is certainly starting to wane.

While there was plenty said about increasing supply it is perhaps what was not said that gives the most away. There was no mention of making it easier for borrowers to access finance to buy properties. There were no Stamp Duty reforms and there were no new initiatives or schemes.

It seems clear to me that the government believes that the home owning aspiration is going to be difficult to satisfy and is looking to manage expectation downwards.

Another tell tale sign of this was the focus on the rental market, with a push for longer tenancy agreements. If people are going to be stuck renting for the rest of their life let’s at least make sure they’re comfortable and secure seems to be the party line.

It’s somewhat contradictory for the government to be focusing its attention on creating a safe rental market for all when it has spent much of the last couple of years introducing policies that have all but decimated the buy-to-let sector. Stamp Duty hikes and tax changes along with constant reminders that the market is firmly under its watch have done little to further the sector. Now that the importance of the market has finally been realised is it safe to say landlords will get a better deal?

Well, don’t get too excited just yet. If you read between the lines you’ll see the government’s view of the private landlord has not improved. Indeed, it seems to me as if it doesn’t trust the independent landlord to deliver on the supply of quality rental property and through its policies it is displaying bias towards large corporate landlords.

There is little mention of the private landlord except to say that councils will be given the power to fine and prosecute the ‘rogues’ that are plaguing the industry.

Once again the PRS is made the scapegoat of the sector – even when the government needs it to be the hero.

Shaun Church is a director at mortgage broker Private Finance

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