Tighter buy to let regulation could push up rents in UK

Taylor Scott International News

Measures which discourage investment in the private rented sector in the UK in the face of population growth and low housing supply can only push up rents and harm tenants more than landlords, a new report suggests. The report from the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA) which examines the key issues facing the main segments that make up today’s mortgage market, warns that tighter buy to let regulation could restrain supply. Assessing the possible impacts of July’s buy to let tax changes, the IMLA argues that a higher tax burden for landlords, which will push some into losses after tax and raise the effective tax rate on their buy to let above 100%, may slightly skew the market in favour of owner occupied house hunters, by reducing the price that landlords are prepared to pay for any given property. The risk, however, is that these changes and the threat of tighter buy to let mortgage regulation will constrain the supply of available rental properties at a time when the fundamentals of population growth and low housing supply are driving an increase in demand, and that institutional investment will fail to make up the gap. The IMLA report shows total lending across the mortgage market this year was running below its 2014 level from January to May. Since then, there has been a sharp recovery and 2015 may be shaping up to be a mirror image of 2014. Subdued lending in the first half of the year may have reflected uncertainty in the run up to the general election but a clear cut election result has removed this level of doubt. The bedding down of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), which disrupted some lending with its introduction in 2014, has also contributed to the recovery, it explains. By far the most robust recovery has come in buy to let, but this must be placed in context of an 81% decline after the recession between 2007 and 2009, the report points out. This compares with a 60% drop in remortgaging volumes, 56% among home movers and 53% among first time buyers over the same period. Buy to let lending volumes remained 40% below their 2007 peak in 2014, and the IMLA argues that it is responding to rather than driving growth in tenant demand in the private rental sector. While buy to let has rebounded, the remortgage market has been slow to respond, but conditions are ripe for a resurgence. IMLA’s analysis shows that in the second quarter of 2015 remortgage volumes were up 11% on the previous quarter to record the best performance since 2009. At just under 3%, the price differential between standard variable rates (SVRs) and discounted variable rate deals is greater this year than ever before. Interest rates are also expected to rise, and for the first time in the second quarter households’ aggregate housing equity surpassed the £5 trillion mark. Only 20% of gross UK housing wealth is now… Taylor Scott International

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