My correspondence showing complete Ministerial lack of understanding!

by Lyndon Whitehouse

9:32 AM, 24th February 2017
About 4 years ago

My correspondence showing complete Ministerial lack of understanding!

Make Text Bigger
My correspondence showing complete Ministerial lack of understanding!

Below is the full response from HM Treasury and Housing Minister,Gavin Barwell, to my MP Emmaignorance Reynolds who raised concerns on my behalf concerning Section 24 and the ban on Agents fees:Treasury

 

HM Treasury, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ

Dear Emma,

3 JAN 2017

Thank you for your email of 16 December enclosing correspondence from your constituent about financial  cost  relief for  landlords.

Thank you for highlighting the report that was compiled regarding this measure. The report is extensive, but I will explain the Government ‘s position on some of the key aspects of it. The Government introduced this change in order to level the playing field between landlords and homeowners. Income tax relief for finance costs is not available to ordinary homebuyers. Therefore, by restricting finance cost relief to the basic rate of income tax, we are reducing the advantage landlords may have in the property market.

Income tax relief for finance costs is also not available to those investing in other assets, such as shares, therefore we are reducing the distortion between property investment  and investment in other assets.

Currently, landlords get relief on their finance costs at their marginal rate of income tax.  By restricting finance cost relief to the basic rate of income tax, all individual landlords   will receive the same rate of income tax relief on their finance   costs.

The report  brings into question the assessment that  only  1 in 5 landlords will  be affected.  I appreciate that this might not be the same conclusion  reached  by other commentators  on the measure. However, this was calculated by HM Revenue and Customs using actual self-assessment  data.

We appreciate that some of the landlords who will pay more tax as a result may have to make important decisions regarding their properties. In order to give landlords time to plan ahead of the changes, we are phasing the changes in over 4 years from April 2017.

The report also highlights case studies  of  how landlords may be affected.  It is important to note that these are rare cases and do not reflect the circumstances of the majority of landlords. As explained above, we expect that only around 1 in 5 landlords will pay more  tax as a result of the changes.

Given the small overall proportion of the housing market affected, we do not expect the changes to have a large impact on rent levels or house prices. The Office for Budget Responsibility also expect the impact on the housing market will be  small.

The report claims that income tax changes made by the Irish Government in 1998 had an impact on rents. However, these changes are not comparable with those being    introduced in the UK. Originally,  the Irish Government abolished tax relief for finance   costs altogether. The Irish Government since reintroduced the relief but placed a flat 75% cap on the amount of finance costs that attract tax relief. By comparison, in the UK the Government have retained tax relief for finance costs at the basic rate of income tax and  all individual landlords will receive tax relief at the same rate, regardless of their level of income. This is to meet our  policy objective of levelling the playing  field.

Whilst most letting and managing agents provide a reputable service a minority of agents offer a poor service and engage in unacceptable practices. The Government is keen to see all tenants receiving a good service from their  landlord and letting agent. That is why,  since 1 October 2014, it has been a legal requirement for letting and managing agents in England to belong to one of the three Government approved redress schemes and that is also why we announced in the Autumn  Statement  a ban on up front  letting agent fees paid by tenants in England. This will support better competition in the market and bring down overall costs. This will mean that tenants will be better able to search around for properties that suit their budget and there will be no hidden costs. This is preferable to tenants  being hit with  upfront charges that  can  be difficult for  them  to afford.

The Government will consult in due course on the detail of how best to implement a ban and will consider the views of  property agencies, landlords, tenants and other  stakeholders before introducing legislation. I would encourage your constituent to participate.

I hope this has helped explain the Government’s position on this policy. The Government will keep it under review, as it does with all tax policy, and it is certainly helpful to have seen the arguments and issues that have been raised.

Please pass on my thanks to Lyndon for taking the trouble to make us aware of these concerns.

JANE  ELLISON

 

Letter to Emma Reynolds MP House of Commons London from Gavin Barwell Minister of State for Housing Planning Department for Communities and Local Government

Email:gavin.barwell@communities.gsi.gov.uk www.gov .uk/dclg

1 6 JAN 2017

Thank you for your email of 16 December on behalf of your constituent Lyndon about implications of Clause 24 and the banning of Letting Agent Fees.

I have noted Lyndon’s concerns. The Government recognises the important role that buy-to-let landlords play in the in the UK housing market and economy. At Summer Budget 2015, the Government set out a package of measures to reduce the budget deficit, rebalance the economy and make the tax system fairer .

By restricting finance cost relief to the basic rate of income tax, all finance costs incurred by individual landlords will be treated the same by the tax system and will reduce the distortion between property investment and investment in other assets. It will also reduce the   advantage landlords may have (for example over first time buyers) in the property market. Landlords will continue to be able to claim income tax relief at their marginal rate on the day­ to-day costs incurred in letting out a property, such as letting agent fees and replacing   furniture. Using actual self-assessment data, HMRC estimate that only 1 in 5 landlords will  pay more tax as a result of this measure. Furthermore, this change is being introduced gradually from April 2017 over 4 years, ensuring  landlords will have time to adjust and plan  for this  change.

I have also noted concerns about the Government’s announcement in the Autumn Statement to ban letting agent fees to tenants. Whilst most letting and managing agents provide a good service, a minority of agents offer a poor service and engage in unacceptable practices. Banning fees to tenants will support better competition in the market and bring down overall costs. The Department will consult ahead of bringing forward legislation.

I hope this helps to explain the actions Government is taking to bring balance and fairness to the house market.

GAVIN BARWELL MP

 

My Response to Gavin Barwell MP:

Dear Mr Barwell,

Thank you for your letter to my Constituency MP, Emma Reynolds, who recently raised some concerns, on my behalf, in relation to clause 24 Finance Act 2015 and the proposed ban on letting agent fees to tenants.

I am now in receipt of your reply to her and would like you to understand and consider the following points;

Let me begin by telling you about me and my family. I do this because I am probably very representative of many other buy to let landlords ( ‘landlords’ being the appropriate description, as opposed to ‘investors’!!), who feel absolutely let down and had their whole life plans potentially destroyed by a Conservative government!

I am from a very working class background in The Black Country, attending a local comprehensive school and being bought up by extremely hard working parents, who, against the difficulties of that time worked hard on the shop floor of factories and installed in their children, the values of hard work and non-reliance on the state.

I went on to enter the West Midlands Police Service and complete 30 years public service in that difficult job.

I have lived my life, working hard and looking after my wife and three children and planning for the future. I own my own house and 15 years ago I decided to take serious risks with the capital that I had saved up.

With much trepidation I entered the property industry, as a buy to let landlord. I risked the ‘family jewels’ with deposits and borrowed heavily (1.8 million. In total), in an effort to create a business that would support my family, both now and in retirement! I now own a portfolio of property locally and then went on to become a letting agent.

My children have all gone on to university and we as a family are no burden whatsoever on the state. We are all self-dependant and although this is changing, we are a typical CONSERVATIVE VOTING FAMILY!! I have voted Conservative at every election since 1979.

I am at this moment in time a member of the Conservative party, however, this is likely to change, as this party is about to be responsible for completely decimating my plans and security for my future.

Most BTL landlords that I encounter, who have used their own, hard worked for deposits and then borrowed to buy property, are natural Conservative voters. There are thousands of these disgruntled people across the country, who are turning their backs on your party in droves. They feel, as I do, that their plans and hard worked for aspirations are about to be ruined!

I have consistently provided good affordable housing for disadvantaged people and also a section of society, who would historically have lived in ‘council accommodation’. I have recently been recognised by my local council, Wolverhampton City Council, by being awarded their first ever 5 star grade, as both landlord and agent. This represents the highest standards in relation to their new and innovative accreditation scheme.

So I think I have now set the scene. Regardless of all the TV and negative media publicity, this is how the vast majority we landlords and agents operate.

All my life I have ‘done the right thing’ and now the rug is being pulled from beneath me by a CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT!!!

Now let me address the comments in your letter;

SECTION 24 FINNCE ACT 2015

  1. How does this level the playing field with first time buyers?

I’ve been a first time buyer, we all have! I bought the house to live in and if after a

period of time I sell it and make a profit, I’m exempt from CGT.

Not so when I buy a BTL property and I’m fine with that.

  1. How can investing in a BTL property be compared to investing in shares? With a share you buy a part of a company and it either goes up or down. I do not consider myself to be an investor, I am running a business, which has associated running costs, one of these being mortgage interest. To run this business I rent the property to a human being and then manage everything that comes with that.
  1. How HMRC have come up with the figure of only 1 in 5, is beyond me. As you are aware landlords will now be pushed into the higher rate tax band by the fact that their turnover will contribute the calculation as opposed to profit. They will now be paying tax on a fictitious profit! This will inevitably force many to sell as no one is going run a loss making business.
  1. A business is what we are running. A difficult business, which involves the skills of managing what can often be challenging human beings. What other business is not allowed to offset their running costs, IN TOTAL, against tax? It is the equivalent of a taxi driver not being able to offset the finance costs of their vehicle and fuel! Ridiculous. We are left paying tax on a fictitious profit.
  1. Who is this change in tax policy going to hit?

Or who is it NOT going to hit?

  1. The Rich – they remain unaffected. They own their property outright and this has no impact.
  2. Property companies – the directors hold their property in limited companies and can continue to offset all their finance costs, but an individual landlord cannot. How bizarre to create a situation like that?

You point out that the changes are being phased in over 4 years to allow for adjustment. The only room for adjustment is to either exit the market, creating homelessness, put rents up to unaffordable levels, or incorporate with all the added financial costs that that brings!

You are actually creating a situation whereby many higher rate tax payers, who have paid their income tax on the rental profit at 40%, year in year out, like me, are going to form limited companies and pay less tax. Why oh why would a CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT be doing that. Why are you going to force landlords to incorporate? That is the only logical adjustment, as you refer to, that can happen.

I’ve tried to remove myself from my landlord’s role and see the logic in what is happening and I cannot actually believe that a Government, that truly understands the implications would continue with it!!! It’s unbelievable!

Given all these points, and I acknowledge that others have set these out to the government in far more depth and with more eloquence than me, you are still set on course to continue with it. Perhaps you should at the very least, make some allowance for people whose plans are in place and not apply it retrospectively! Put it into place for new BTL purchases only.

Lastly, let me address the second issue raised;

PROPOSED BAN ON TENANT LETTING AGENT FEES.

I absolutely acknowledge that there are many rogue agents who in areas of extremely high demand for property, charge extortionate fees. My two daughters both rent in London and believe me I know! However, the moderate fees that most agents charge are realistic and are necessary to enable the agent to provide a good 24 hour service.

We are an agency, managing 300 properties. We offer 24 hour cover to the tenant and will assist in dealing with benefit claims etc. etc. All my staff are qualified in understanding the benefit system. They have been accredited locally by the Local Authority. These services will need to be cut if this ban is brought in.

There are many time wasters, who insist that they want a property and then back out at the last minute. Without the provision of some fees this will get worse.

I have calculated that the loss to our company will be in the region of £24k, which is someone’s job. These fees cannot realistically be passed onto the landlord, the competition is already high and this encourages lower charging agents to flourish. But these agents cannot provide the levels of service that a tenant deserves.

My feelings are that a blanket ban is the equivalent of using a broad brush to tackle a problem that is specific the certain areas and certain agents. Maybe, if you need to legislate, cap the fees?

Mr Barwell, I do hope that you will take my thoughts into consideration and I look forward to your considered response.

Yours sincerely

Lyndon

Landlord and Letting Agent


Share this article

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

Comments

Jamie M

13:59 PM, 27th February 2017
About 4 years ago

He probably won't read it and he is part of the problem being connected to the elite bastards that this benefits.

Perhaps Barwell would like to remove the tax we pay when we sell the properties to really "level the playing field"

Also every 2-3 years 1st time buyers can have their houses roughed up a bit and pay for repairs redecoration and damaged properties, have thousands taken from their bank accounts with no recourse each year and have nasty wee journos and politicians say all manner of lies about them along with all the homeless charities and generally have a hate campaign set up for 1st time buyers.
Then when they sell they can be taxed on the total capital uplift.

I can hear them screaming blue murder.

If he really wants to level the playing field he has a lot more to do

Dr Rosalind Beck

15:44 PM, 27th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jamie Moodie" at "27/02/2017 - 13:59":

Well said, James. It would be a good idea to send these points to Barwell and Hammond. I think you've made some excellent observations - in the same way that the thread comparing taxi drivers to landlords did. If you don't want to do it, let me know and I will use your ideas as I think they should be used more widely and not just in this thread.

Jamie M

16:22 PM, 27th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "27/02/2017 - 15:44":

Rosalind

I received this in reply today as I sent your PDF re S24 to Reesmogg and Tyrie
Dear Mr Moodie,

Thank you for your copying the Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee into your recent email regarding Section 24 of the Finance Act 2015. As I am sure you will appreciate, the Chairman receives a large amount of correspondence and so I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Committee.

A number of stakeholders, many of them landlords like yourself, have written to the Committee to express their concerns about the impact these changes may have on the rental market. These concerns were also discussed during a recent Committee meeting on housing policy (http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/treasury-committee/housing-policy/oral/44218.html). The Committee will continue to monitor this issue, and your input may be useful to any future work the Committee agrees to undertake on this topic. I will therefore keep a copy of your correspondence so that it can be shared with the policy specialists who brief the Committee.

I hope that this reply is helpful.

Kind regards,

George James
Senior Committee Assistant | Treasury Committee | House of Commons | London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 5769 | E-mail: jamesg@parliament.uk

Open this link and read, the landlord bit is near the end
http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/treasury-committee/housing-policy/oral/44218.html

PS please use my observations re levelling the playing field
Regards Jamie

Gromit

17:01 PM, 27th February 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Dully" at "26/02/2017 - 20:01":

Gary
Absolutely right, what many people, especially politicians, do not understand (Business 101) is the customer pays for everything (out of the price they pay for the goods or services) at least for "going concerns".

I suspect quite a few accidental Landlords do not appreciate this basic fact of business either, subsidise they property business from other incomes. s.24 for them just means paying more tax through PAYE without realising it.

money manager

20:47 PM, 2nd March 2017
About 4 years ago

"The Government introduced this change in order to level the playing field between landlords and homeowners. Income tax relief for finance costs is not available to ordinary homebuyers"

INCORRECT: A home owner has a very real benefit derived from their occupation of the property, a landlord faces a personal use tax charge if they do so. A homeowner can change their "portfolio" with neither CGT implications nor the extended SDLT charges that residential investors incur.

"Income tax relief for finance costs is also not available to those investing in other assets, such as shares, therefore we are reducing the distortion between property investment and investment in other assets."

INCORRECT: If an investor buys shares in a company with no borrowings the company receives no corporation tax relief. As soon as it acquires an asset with borrowings it, and vicariously the investor, receives tax relief on the debt financing costs.

"This will mean that tenants will be better able to search around for properties that suit their budget and there will be no hidden costs."

INCORRECT: Costs don't dissappear as a result of banning fees, they are likely to be subsumed into rents. Therfore, ALL costs will be hidden and with inevitable cross subsidies where variable costs (e.g negotiated break clauses) are averaged into rents

"This is preferable to tenants being hit with upfront charges that can be difficult for them to afford."

INORRECT: Our standard fees for a single applicant amount to £395, if that is unaffordable there will be little point in discussing a typical £1200 pcm and deposit of £1800. The same argument applies at all price scales.

Government spokespeople really should be taken to task for such misrepresentations.

Gromit

21:45 PM, 2nd March 2017
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "money manager" at "02/03/2017 - 20:47":

It is called "spin" or to be more accurate "sophistry".

1 3 4

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Absent freeholder since purchase in 2011 suddenly appears?

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More