15:37 PM, 21st July 2016, About 7 years ago 54
Dear Mr Hammond,
Upon her welcome ascension to the role of Prime Minister, Mrs May verbally committed the Government to act on behalf of the striving workers of Britain, rather than exclusively for the benefit of those at the top of society. It is therefore in this light, that I feel I must bring the following matter to your attention.
I am one of the many private landlords operating outside of the property hotspot of London. Throughout most of the country outside London rents have remained static, rising nationally at a rate lower than overall inflation. However, the trend with myself and among landlords that I know has been to charge the same rents year-on-year; the aims of this being to cover mortgage outgoings and other costs while insulating our tenants from disruption and hardship. In other words, just to let things “tick over”. It was for this purpose last summer that I re-mortgaged all of my properties: to prevent my rents from increasing (rents paid by hardworking strivers) I re-mortgaged to stop my mortgage outgoings from doing likewise.
Unfortunately, thanks to your predecessor George Osborne pulling the rug out from beneath myself and other formerly Conservative voting landlords (and by definition also our tenants), this effort appears to have been for nothing. Section 24 of the Finance Act 2015/16 will, with each year that passes until 2021, remove our ability to offset mortgage outgoings (our main cost) against tax. The affect of this will be to repeatedly and significantly rachet-up the amount of tax that we pay by reclassifying increasing proportions of a genuine business expense as fictitious profit. This is an utterly unprecedented and frankly dishonest method of increasing tax revenue. It is one of the policies, pushed through without proper consultation by the Treasury and absent from the Party’s manifesto, which caused George Osborne’s reputation among the Party’s grassroots to bomb through the floor and for his departure from the role of Chancellor to be greeted among them with such glee.
Within a year of the Conservatives’ election victory, Treasury policy has been pushing significant numbers of people to have voted Conservative not to do so again. This year’s local elections were the first time in my life that I chose not to vote Conservative: such was my discontent with George Osborne’s activity and the prospect of him potentially leading the Party in future. Every landlord that I know, who was aware of Section 24, also did the same. Through this policy, Mr Osborne also enlarged his reputation for granting favours to corporate vested interests: the reality of Section 24 is that contrary to previous official spin, the wealthiest cash-buying and corporate landlords (many of whom are prominent Conservative party donors) are completely protected from its implications. When subsequently, during his Autumn statement, the then Chancellor quite cockily responded to criticism of this unfairness with a targeted stamp duty hike upon smaller rental providers, he’d truly passed the point of no return… demonstrating the same punitive impulse as which would later drive his ill-famed “Punishment Budget”.
Of far greater importance however are the implications of Section 24 upon the hardworking strivers who Mrs May has pledged to stand up for. Because the projected higher tax bills calculated from fictitious profit will in many cases exceed today’s rents once added to mortgage outgoings, many landlords have no choice but to increase rents. Indeed, those aware of Section 24 have already begun to do so. This is why Section 24 has been dubbed “The Tenant Tax”. Thanks to your predecessor, the country is beginning to experience entirely tax-driven rent increases. This is bad for working Britons and their corresponding ability to save up a deposit of their own. Furthermore, as the minimum rents landlords need to charge rise, in order to cover their outgoings and inflated tax-liability, their ability to let to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society will decrease: particularly so following recent restrictions to housing benefit. Already stretched local councils and housing associations will therefore pay a heavy price for this past year of short-termist landlord-bashing. Those landlords resultingly unable to obtain rents high enough to cover their costs will in turn be forced to evict their tenants and sell with vacant possession, reducing the overall supply of rental accommodation, placing further upward price pressure upon the rental sector in the long-term, and damaging labour mobility within the country at large.
The state will also face further financial costs of its own, namely the cost of investigating the growing number of landlords driven not to declare rental income in order to keep their rental businesses viable, and the cost of defending Section 24 in Court during the upcoming Judicial Review of the measure.
In short – irrespective of Brexit, Mrs May becoming Prime Minister, and George Osborne’s departure – if the Treasury does not reverse the recent legacy of your predecessor and dustbin the impending cock-up that is Section 24 of The Finance act 2015 (“restrictions on finance cost relief for individual landlords”), the situation for both hardworking strivers and the reputation of the Parliamentary party among grassroots Conservatives will continue to deteriorate.
Thank you for your attention with this matter.
Please re-tweet the following …
Open Letter To The New Chancellor – @PHammondMP – https://t.co/8474MKsqaO pic.twitter.com/iFjssUErbV
— Property118.com (@Property118) July 21, 2016
Property118 Action Group is doing its bit and has proven that the power of a crowd can make a difference.
For example, £27,500,000 of overpaid mortgage interest was refunded to landlords in 2016 as a result of legal campaign undertaken by 300 members of Property118 Action Group against West Bromwich Building Society. Between them, just over 300 landlords raised just over £601,000 to take their case all the way to the Court of Appeal.
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If just a few hundred landlords can take on the might of a rogue financial institution (and WIN!), just imagine what thousands of us can achieve!
When Property118 Action group took on the legal campaign to challenge the actions of West Bromwich Mortgage Company there were obviously doubters who said we would never raise the £500,000 required to go to Court, and even if we did we would lose. We proved them wrong!
The Financial Ombudsman Service had previously ruled in favour of the mortgage lender!
Property118 Action Group has committed to pledge £100 to the “Axe The #TenantTax” campaign for every Lifetime Founder Member.
The #TenantTax is arguably the greatest threat to the private rented sector due many landlords considering selling up. Any reduction in supply of quality rental property will negatively impact letting agents and well as increasing demand amongst tenants, thus driving up rents.
In addition to providing funding towards the intended Judicial Review of #TenantTax Property118 Action Group has undertaken significant research and lobbying as well as using our official Google News Publisher website status to promote the cause. The Property118 website attracts more than 1.8 million unique users a year and is considered to be a centre of influence amongst mainstream and regional media groups.
There are many examples of landlords having been victims of fraud by abuse of position committed by their letting agent where Police and CPS have dropped cases due to lack of resource.
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In March 2013 Bank of Ireland raised tracker rate mortgage margins. Over 13,000 borrowers were affected. Many of these originally took mortgages with Bristol & West which was taken over by Bank of Ireland. Two Barristers and one QC provided written opinion that they believed the Bank were in breach of contract. Sadly, Property118 Action Group didn’t exist then. Many of the affected borrowers initially expressed an interest in legal action. However, when it came to having to commit substantial sums of money to fund legal action their enthusiasm quickly dissipated leaving less than a few dozen of the more militant campaigners with the impossible task of raising the required funds. If each of those affected had only needed to commit to paying a one of fee of £600 or committing to a monthly subscription of £10 a month the position might have been very different, as would the level of media attention on the case as it progressed through the judicial system. Many of the affected borrowers have already overpaid 10’s of thousands of pounds. The Financial Services Ombudsman ruled the bank was within its rights to make the changes. However, following the Court of Appeal overruling the FOS decision in respect of the West Bromwich Mortgage Company rate hike, Property118 Action Group plans to take further legal action on behalf of its member in August 2016. All Founder/Lifetime Members with mortgages affected by this lender will be invited to be part of this legal action at no extra cost.
In 2010 Skipton Building Society unilaterally decided to abandon a contractual commitment to cap their standard variable mortgage rates to 3% over the bank of England base rate. An estimated 135,000 mortgages were affected, many of which had been provided via their subsidiary company Amber Homeloans. The Financial Services Ombudsman ruled the lender was within its rights to make the changes. However, following the Court of Appeal overruling the FOS decision in respect of the West Bromwich Mortgage Company rate hike, Property118 Action Group plans to take further legal action on behalf of its member in August 2016. Again we have the legal opinion of two barristers, both of which have advised that the lender is in breach of contract and that a Court is likely to award a full refund of all payments over and above what the mortgage contract allowed for. All Founder/Lifetime Members with mortgages affected by this lender will be invited to be part of this legal action at no extra cost.
Property118 Action Group is not insurance based, it is more akin to a Union which utilises member subscriptions to protect and fight for the rights of its members. It does not provide legal services but will procure them where necessary.
Successes in the Courtroom enhance our public profile and drive an increasing number of landlords to seek the security and peace of mind that only Property118 Action Group membership can provide.
As many landlords have learned to their peril; when it comes to funding litigation against mortgage lenders or the Government, legal fees insurance policies often prove to be about as useful as a chocolate fire guard. Furthermore, trade bodies rarely have the necessary experience, resolve, finances or other resources to get involved in action beyond referring their members to their preferred suppliers of legal services, the authorities or Ombudsmen.
The UK private rented sector is often described as one of the UK’s remaining “cottage industries”.
Private landlords own around 4.8 million properties providing housing for around 22% of the adult population.
There are thought to be around two million private housing providers (buy-to-let landlords) in the UK
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Letting Agents are highly reliant upon a healthy private rented sector.
Successfully defending our members’ rights continues to enhance our public profile through media based PR and reporting.
ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) were the first to agree to promote Property118 Action Group at their landlord exhibitions, by having roll up banners on their own exhibition stand, handing out leaflets to attendees and signing up new members. From time to time we look for volunteers from our membership to represent us at events. Obviously we cover their reasonable expenses for this.
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In 2015 the Property118.com website had over 3 million page views from over 1.8 million unique visitors. The projection for 2016 is over 8 million page views based on the results in the first half of the year, trajectory of growth and the anticipated additional interest off the back of the win against West Bromwich Mortgage Company at the Court of Appeal.
We continue to form strategic alliances with many more organisations representing large numbers of landlords or letting agents.
We have produced leaflets, logo’s, website widgets, and roll-up banners for use in offices, shops and exhibitions. These, along with other support in terms of copy-writing, Press Releases and joint PR are all available free of charge to any organisation that wishes to form a Strategic Alliance.
If you work with such an organisation please see this link
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18:21 PM, 7th August 2016, About 7 years ago
Reply to the comment left by "Jay James" at "06/08/2016 - 18:55":
All my 3 beds go for less than 7500 a year. 425-550 is the going rate in much of the North East
18:24 PM, 7th August 2016, About 7 years ago
Same in the north west most of mine 500 / 550 only larger ones go for 650/700 yields are great though
8:42 AM, 8th August 2016, About 7 years ago
Reply to the comment left by "Jay James" at "07/08/2016 - 15:54":
Recardo does have a point, it could be argued that the rent a room scheme (which the tax free allowance is called) is unfair, when you consider "regular" landlords (especially as this has only just been increased from £4,250). It could also be argued that it encourages the kind of casual and often unfair room letting arrangements mentioned in earlier comments here.
However, the rent a room scheme is designed to encourage people to let their spare room, something which many are very reluctant to do. With the housing crisis, we need to use as much of our housing stock as fully as possible, and resident landlords are playing their part here. Live in landlords often let their rooms because they are very short of money, often struggling to pay their own mortgage or rent, so again, they really need to keep their rental income without being taxed on it.
10:43 AM, 8th August 2016, About 7 years ago
Dear participants in this discussion: shouldn't we close the subject of room renting? It is irrelevant in the circumstances when the landlords are going to be taxed through the nose and nobody seems to be listening.
Virtually everyone with a spare room at their home can let it out and earn £7500 tax free. There are regulations to follow for those who want to do it that way. Please do not forget that for the thousands of pensioners the room rental is sometimes a lifeline and also address the needs of those who cannot afford to rent even a studio. Addresses the needs of those who come for a short time assignments too. (BTW - we have been - as Mandy - on both side of that, now renting a lovely room with a shower room and our lodgers are staying years rather than months).
I think we should concentrate on how to fight Section 24, which is a lot more dangerous than an 'old dear' renting her spare boxroom tax-free. In Landlords Reactions chain of posts there is an excellent example of a letter to be sent to Hammond with regards to S24 (by Dr Rosalind Beck). IMHO we should concentrate on that. Thank you.