Those expecting a rabbit out of a hat-type announcement in last week’s Budget would have been bitterly disappointed.
All in all, the whole affair was pretty beige – despite some well-timed one-liners – and rhetoric over substance was the order of the day.
There were, however, some interesting announcements, the Lifetime Isa being one of them.
But once again George Osborne wasted the opportunity to put forward a definitive and joined-up plan to solve the housing crisis.
In fact, things like the Isa do not solve supply problems – they simply stoke demand and will probably therefore push up house prices.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Budget was the outcome of the Treasury’s buy-to-let consultation. Osborne confirmed there would be no carveout for larger landlords buying through a limited company, meaning everyone must pay the 3 percentage point surcharge from 1 April.
However, as Mortgage Strategy revealed last week there is a little-known loophole that could save landlords thousands of pounds in stamp duty.
Landlords bulk-purchasing six properties or more are able to take advantage of multiple dwellings relief.
Experts suggested landlords could rush to use this obscure tax relief after 1 April, although admittedly this avenue is of no use to those buying single properties.
As Bill Warren Compliance founder Bill Warren says: “If the opportunity is there, I’m sure landlords and multiple buy-to-let owners will be rushing to it if they can save a few bob.”
MDR was in fact highlighted to respondents to the buy-to-let stamp duty consultation by none other than HM Treasury.
This simply reinforces the commonly held view that the Government would like to drive smaller landlords out of the market and wants big corporates to take over the management of the private rented sector.
Therefore one should not expect the Government to loosen its grip on the sector any time soon.