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Restrict foreign buyers in UK, say accountants, who support BTL surcharge

  • 17/07/2017
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Restrict foreign buyers in UK, say accountants, who support BTL surcharge
Strong limits on overseas property investment and maintaining the buy-to-let surcharge have both been applauded as right and proper by UK accountants.

They also believe that Brexit has had a negligible impact on the market and that a full policy overhaul is needed to improve housing supply and affordability.

Results from the Association of Accounting Technicians’ (AAT) annual housing survey found overwhelming support for eligibility criteria to be imposed on overseas property investors.

The vast majority (89%) of AAT members who responded would like to see some form of eligibility criteria imposed on overseas investors to the UK and a similar number (78%) wanted an additional tax to be levied against these buyers.

A majority of respondents (54%) went even further, believing that only UK residents, irrespective of nationality, should be permitted to purchase residential property.

This would mirror arrangements in Iceland and Singapore where only residents of those countries can purchase residential property.

Only 8% said the UK should keep its borders completely open to overseas investors.

AAT head of public affairs and public policy Phil Hall said: “It doesn’t matter how many houses are built in the UK, there will never be enough to meet demand because demand is not simply coming from the 65 million currently resident in the UK but from across, Europe, Asia and America.

“It’s perhaps understandable that AAT members therefore strongly support some kind of restriction on the purchase of residential property by overseas investors.”


Housing supply

Accountants were damning of current policy towards housing supply and affordability with only 7% believing the system should be maintained as it is.

Most notably, 44% said they wanted all four options suggested to be implemented.

The most popular of these was increasing access to finance schemes such as Help to Buy (23%), followed by empowering local authorities and housing associations to build more properties (18%).

The other two were to make changes to the planning system (3%) and ban letting agents fees (6%).


Buy to let surcharge

Views on the Stamp Duty surcharge for buy-to-let properties were mixed but there was more support for it to be maintained than for it to be removed (37% vs 26% respectively).

The number of those wanting the surcharge increased were identical to those favouring a reduction (9%).

These results suggested members acknowledged and accepted the policy reasons for seeking to dampen demand in the sector.

Meanwhile Brexit was seen to have had little influence on the market (51%) of AAT members, while 8% thought it had been positive and 22% believed it had been negative.

The AAT has more than 4,250 licensed accountants and the survey, which was conducted in June and July, received 192 responses.

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