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Chancellor should scrap Stamp Duty and incentivise investors to enter buy-to-let market

Brendan Sharkey · November 3rd 2023 · read

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, I would call on the government to reverse policies on EPCs and interest rate relief for buy-to-let properties.

Scrap Stamp Duty

To get the housing market moving the government should scrap Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for first-time buyers and those looking to downsize to a smaller property. This would give first-time buyers an incentive to enter the expensive property market at a slightly cheaper price. It would also allow those looking to downsize to move into smaller homes, saving money on higher mortgage payments and energy costs. As a result, the housing market would have a new supply of larger properties better suited to families rather than couples.

EPC ratings on residential sales

Scrapping the EPC targets in the overhaul of net zero targets was a mistake on Rishi Sunak’s part. To ensure residential homes become energy efficient, the government should require a minimum EPC “C” rating for all residential sales. This will mean that when a property is sold the impact of any necessary works will be quantified and considered in the price and funding.

Properties that do not meet the required standard should face an additional 3% SDLT charge, with the 3% only being removed and repaid once the necessary retrofitting and energy-efficient infrastructure has been introduced. This will ensure that homes become fit for purpose, boost activity in the sector and demonstrate that the industry is playing its role in the green transition despite the government U-turn earlier last month. 

Reversing buy-to-let tax reliefs

We need a healthy supply of rental properties. Right now, there is no incentive for new landlords to enter the market. To address this, the government should reverse the changes to interest rate relief on buy-to-let properties.

We need to scrap the 20% flat rate and go back to the previous rules where landlords could deduct their mortgage interest payments from rental income earned and claim up to 40% or 45% tax relief on mortgage payments.  Introducing these reforms should increase the supply of housing and alleviate the pressures faced by UK tenants due to the strained and competitive supply of rental property.

Get a plan

The planning approval process is complex, expensive and too slow, which discourages the smaller builders and needs to be aligned with infrastructure projects. We need a new National Planning team to support under resourced Local Authorities. It would be able to match needs with available resources countrywide. Ultimately, it would function like a regulator and needs to be fully funded.

For further guidance

For further guidance on any of the tax measures discussed in this article, please contact your usual MHA advisor or contact us.

Find the latest Autumn Statement 2023 commentary on our dedicated hub, where we will be providing resources, advice and practical guidance on what any tax measures announced could mean for you and your business, and to help you prepare for and manage their impact.

Visit our Autumn Statement hub