Don’t cry for landlords: they still rule the housing market

Outlook

Landlords in a pilot scheme were put off by foreign-sounding names
Landlords in a pilot scheme were put off by foreign-sounding names

Watch out, tenants: Kent Reliance says the meanie in No 11 Downing Street is going to cost YOU £55 a month extra in rent because of the increased stamp duty he has imposed upon your landlord.

For which, read: Kent Reliance, which owns OneSavings Bank, is very cross about a policy that hurts its bet on buy-to-let mortgages as much as it hurts tenants. So it has put out some scary figures.

The Chancellor probably won’t be too worried, not least because his policy is ideological – aimed at encouraging people to buy homes as places to live in rather than as investments, and thus to facilitate a mass property-owning democracy.

Meanwhile, those who remain in the business of buying to let will do as they’ve always done. They’ll charge what they feel the market will bear, regardless of the tax.

They’re no happier than Kent Reliance, but given the impressive yields they’ve been enjoying, they’ll manage. In part that is because they have pricing power.

One reason for that is another aspect of Mr Osborne’s policy: the requirement that councils and housing associations sell off their properties on the cheap if their tenants want to buy and are lucky enough to be able to obtain mortgages.

This insanity – which is not a feature of the market in Scotland and Wales because their devolved administrations have binned it – is stripping England of affordable rental properties that it badly needs.

Which means buy-to-let landlords don’t have to worry too much about the tax. Even with Mr Osborne subsidising first-time buyers, they’re still the only game in town for far too many people.

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