The Times: Big landlords avoid rise in stamp duty
Fri 27 Nov 2015
Companies with more than 15 properties could be exempt from the buy-to-let stamp duty surcharge, prompting anger that individual land-lords will be the ones to miss out. George Osborne used the spending review to introduce a 3 per cent rise in stamp duty rates for buyers of second homes and buy-to-let landlords. How-ever, corporate landlords with 15 or more properties could be exempt. "The higher rates will not apply to ... corporates or funds making sig-nificant investments in residential property given the role of this invest-ment in supporting the government's housing agenda," the Treasury said on Wednesday. "The government will consult on the policy detail, including on whether an exemption for corpo-rates and funds owning more than 15 residential properties is appropriate." The Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said the exemption would result in "more big corporate landlords rather than individuals". The IFS said the gov-ernment would have to explain its argu-ment that big corporates are exempt because of "their role" in the govern-ment's housing agenda. Peter Rollings, chief executive of the estate agent Marsh_&_Parsons, said the extra tax would deter one-off landlords but was "unlikely to put off the vast swathes of professional investors". "It's also worth remembering that it doesn't make prices any more afford-able for buyers it just penalises inves-tors," he argued. The 3 per cent surcharge comes just months after the chancellor said that mortgage interest relief would be re-stricted for buy-to-let landlords to the basic tax rate of 20 per cent. The policy will be phased in from 2017.The IFS also warned that tenants could face higher rents. The think tank said that there would be a rush to buy properties before April 2016 when the new stamp duty rates are introduced and that the 3 per cent surcharge would result in fewer rental properties and therefore higher rents. While Mr Osborne plans to free up homes for first-time buyers, experts fear the move could be counterproduc-tive as tenants are stung by rent rises, hampering their attempts to save for a deposit and get on the property ladder. The Office for Budget Responsibility has chopped its forecasts for the amount of money the Treasury is set to raise from stamp duty on the back of a slowing housing market in the capital. Over the period between 2014-15 and 2020-21, the Treasury is forecast to raise 2.8 billion less in stamp duty re-ceipts from residential properties than was expected in July. The OBR said that this reflected a "substantial fall in the number of trans-actions at very high prices", especially in the 2 million plus market.