Today sees the much talked about and much vaunted buy-to-let reforms kick in across the UK. What exactly does this mean? The new rate of stamp duty affects people investing in buy-to-let property and second homes; anyone who buys an additional property for over £40,000 as a buy-to-let investment, second home or holiday home will have to pay an extra 3% under the new rules. The government are implementing the change in an attempt to arrest the decade long decline in home ownership and they hope by cooling off the buy-to-let market that there will be less competition for first-time buyers. This is all well and good, but as has continually happened, the people who are going to suffer the most have been entirely ignored in the process: the renters.
The trouble is that with landlord costs rising, this will inevitably filter down to tenants - leading to a decline in the rental stock and consequently raising prices. Landlords can make necessary adjustments to suit themselves and despite the manic rush which has ensued among buy-to-let investors keen to buy before the hike in prices, investors will be the group who benefit in the long run. This is the last thing that the renting community needs; ever since news broke of the reforms in January, prices have been rising steadily and will now soar due to supply taking a nose-dive. A greater number of properties need to be built specifically for renting purposes - otherwise the current market will continue along its current path and it is simply unsustainable.
Changes certainly need to be made in the UK rental market and the renter's voice is one that should be valued. There are 1.9 million of them in London alone, so it is a huge demographic of the country that the government are currently dismissing. Greater transparency and a far more streamlined approach needs to be adopted. The UK is a hugely exciting place to live and work but we are in danger of failing to attract the top talent with these latest legislation changes and the country's workforce will be poorer for it.
Last month's Budget did nothing to help tackle the issue in terms of a fresh promise of new properties. The problem is heightened in London and has already been raised by the mayoral candidates as being a key issue to tackle. We need a mayor who will deliver the step-change in house building that London needs, not simply sit and watch the situation deteriorate. A generation of uninspiring politicians have failed to even acknowledge the existence of private tenants across the capital, let alone tackle the deep-rooted issues causing widespread angst and unrest.
I was delighted to see the recent noise that Vicky Spratt has been making. She has been strongly voicing her opinion towards making things fairer for renters and shares a similar outlook to myself. The government clearly are oblivious to the needs of the UK's renting community as they have been dealt a raw deal once again. The time for the renter's voice to be heard and taken on board has firmly arrived.