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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.


The Budget 2014 – Little to help the PRS


George Osborne drinks a beer during a visit to Marston's Brewery

The Budget is good news for beer-drinking pensioners – and they deserve it – but it contains nothing of benefit for the Private Rental Sector.

We keep hearing that housing stock standards in the PRS are too low but we have no tangible steps to improve them. The Government risks seeing landlords as the enemy, yet the only way to improve the rental stock is to work with them, not against them, and this Budget is a missed opportunity. For example, it could have included making improvements to a property tax deductible; giving a greater annual tax allowance for furnishings; or by reducing the Green Deal interest rates

It is easy to focus on increasing SDLT receipts from empty homes under corporate ownership but a more progressive approach would be to reduce SDLT at the lowest level to help 1st time buyers and to decrease SDLT for those over 65 if they are downsizing, so we can free up more family homes.

The extension of the equity part of the Help to Buy scheme for new homes is not surprising and we would like to see a planned reduction in the scheme phased over 3 years from 2017 to 2020.

We understand that Help to Buy boosts the demand needed for new homes to be built, however the Budget speech doesn’t explain how the 200,000 new homes is comprised. If it includes the extended Help to Buy scheme figures then it misses the point: the country needs 200,000 new homes per year, not over the next 6 years.

The risk is that Help To Buy uses Government intervention to cover up the fundamental lack of new homes coming on-stream. It seems that further changes to the national planning framework and more creative brownfield development incentives will have to wait.

The Right to Build Your Own Home scheme sounds interesting – we await the facts.