Just a few weeks ago I was invited to participate on a panel debate at the Landlord Show at Olympia alongside some well known industry figures such as Carolyn Uphill, Chair of the National Landlords Association (NLA) and Peter Littlewood, Director of the Southern Landlords Association (SLA). We were joined on the panel by Iain Duncan Smith MP, the former leader of the Conservative Party. This was a very rare opportunity for the 300 or so landlords attending the debate to pose some direct questions to an influential and respected senior politician on matters affecting the private rental sector.
Inevitably the two main topics which were of most concern centred on the imposition of the increased taxes on landlords including the 3% SDLT charge, S24 and the increasing use of landlord licensing by local authorities. I also had an opportunity to raise my own concerns directly to Iain Duncan Smith in a brief private conversation afterwards.
I specifically asked him about the imposition of S24, which over the next few years could see many individual landlords paying significantly more in income tax and just how his party thought that this was justifiable, given it was not part of the Conservative Party manifesto prior to the 2015 General Election.
His reply was highly insightful: "what you have to understand is that there is Government and then there is the Treasury. They saw an opportunity to get one of their wish list items through and to raise more tax from private landlords. It's likely that they did not expect this (S24) to be approved by the then Chancellor (George Osborne) but it was."
To be fair to Mr Duncan Smith he is one of the very few senior politicians who to-date has been prepared to publicly state that these taxes on landlords are wrong and should be reversed. It is unlikely that S24 will be reversed in the near future but it's probably not a bad idea to lobby your local MP to make them aware of the consequences etc.
Inside this edition on page 20 we have a fascinating account in this month's investor interview of how two brothers are creating a property business from humble beginnings. Our lead article on page 16 needs little extra comment from me but John Corey's' latest commentary on page 42 and Lisa Orme's on page 36 underlines the fact that too many people 'act in haste and repent at leisure' when it comes to trusting third party suppliers and joint venture partners.