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How should Landlords vote in Elections 2010?

That is a very good and pertinent question. One which I hope all landlords have been able to answer. However, it is possible that some are still wavering, and understandably so.  This election went from being a two horse race to a three horse race, much to the consternation of the two big parties, the blues and the reds. Enter the yellows, with their fresh new perspective on the economy, taxes, politics and opportunities, giving a zing to what might have been a lack-lustre offering.

No one can dictate how one should vote. But some additional information might go some way to providing some clarity.

So, what do the parties have to offer us landlords in the private rented sector? I read an article very recently by Oliver Romain, printed in the latest edition of the Landlord & Buy-to-let magazine, the Election Special, he called it. The answer is, not very much. There is something, but quite light.

The Conservatives, have tabled an Early Day Motion opposing the issue of HMO planning requirements just introduced by the outgoing goofment, and have come under fire from John Denham, former Labour secretary of State, and now Parliamentary candidate in Southamption. But that’s another story. So what else do the Tories have up their sleeves?  They

(1) promise to abolish Home Information Packs (HIPs) and
(2) introduce eco-incentives for homes,
(3) promise to raise inheritance tax threshold to £1m
, which will be welcome by most successful landlords with offspring.

The Tories have always been viewed as pro-business, but on this particular issue of the PRS, they don’t quite impress me with their offerings. Watering down the HMO planning law does not solve the problem, its just tinkering with the edges.

Labour‘s response is interesting. What did Labour have to say when asked why landlords should vote for them. The response from John Healy, the then housing minister was this: “The Labour Government recognises the important role that private landlords play in the housing market in the UK. To ensure that this contribution is properly appreciated we are committed to supporting professionalism among private landlords and property managers. (More goobledegook…)

  1. We will establish a new National Landlord Register and take action to assist landlords in providing the best possible service for their tenants.
  2. We will also allow councils to set up their own local landlord licensing schemes. This will mean that permission will no longer be required from central government, freeing councils to better apply their knowledge and awareness of local issues and concerns.
  3. In addition, our recent consultation ‘Investment in the UK private rented sector’ has invited industry to consider how we can work with the private sector to address demand, housing supply and any barriers to investment.

I don’t know about you, but that does not tell me much, and as the article author said, the response was probably meaningful to the “political twonks” of Whitehall (by the way, what are twonks?). This typifies the Labour approach – control, control and more control. Use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and ignore the consequence. The goofment’s own independent report stated the problem of HMOs/studentification was not widespread or sufficient significant to justify a new law, but typically, the goofment did not listen. What about all those towns/cities that don’t have universities or colleges? Labour think all landlords are ogres that must be controlled, and their way of controlling us is by more regulation. Anyway, I digress…  but then on second thoughts, why would any Landlord, having  just read this, even consider voting Labour?

LibDems, the new kids on the block seem to have a bit more to say on the private rented sector.

  1. Under the banner of ‘fairer taxation’ they will reintroduce indexation allowance, meaning that nobody will pay capital gains on the increase in an asset’s price due to general price inflation. Benefiting landlords during their lifetime
  2. In addition, they will widen the CGT rules to encompass all UK property, regardless of whether ownership is by a resident or a non-resident, so that everyone pays their fair share.”
  3. They promise to abolish Home Information Packs and introduce eco-incentives for homes
  4. There are over 760,000 empty homes in England alone, and they want to bring a quarter of a million of these empty homes back into use (reasonable target, I would say). This will be done by providing a mix of grants and cheap loans of up to £10,000: grants if the home is brought back into use for social housing and loans if the homes is brought back into use in the private housing sector. (this should also stimulate jobs in some parts of the building industry)
  5. We will reduce the cost of repairs and improvements by equalising the rate of VAT on new build and repair… VAT on repair and rebuild work will come down from 17.5% and it will be cheaper to add extensions to houses and do loft conversions etc. (I don’t know about you, but that is music to my ears. Paying VAT on essential repairs is just so unfair and a disincentive ).

The conclusion of the article was that whilst no party offers a truly focused message for the PRS, the LibDems come first, the Conservatives second and Labour a well deserved third place, in respect of positive plans for Landlords.

So, fellow Landlords, over to you. I know which party I will be voting for, what about you?

If you want more detailed information, you can read the full article here.

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