How do you view the Budget changes to Stamp Duty?
The government is justified in closing the Stamp Duty loophole to prevent tax avoidance. But this may have an unintended impact on legitimate companies that buy properties to let as their primary business activity. The move could influence investment decisions by landlords who operate as small businesses. The continual tinkering at the edges of the regime is a clear indication that a comprehensive review of Stamp Duty is required.
Do you expect more property taxation in the future?
The debate on taxing property rather than labour to boost the economic recovery seems to be gaining traction again. It assumes that property income is unearned, but landlords know that’s not true. The recession affected the property market as much as any other. The government should be reluctant to impose any extra burden on the sector as it recovers from a difficult few years.
What was the main thing missing from the Budget you would have liked to see?
More measures to stimulate investment and encourage growth in the residential property market would have been good. Also, the Treasury has again failed to address the inequity of the Capital Gains Tax system whereby there is no differentiation between short-term speculation and long-term investment in let property.
If you were in charge of the Financial Services Authority for a day what would you do?
While the FSA doesn’t regulate buy-to-let, a long-term and sustainable approach to encouraging sensible lending would benefit landlords and the property sector.
What is your most extravagant purchase, except property?
I once spent £3,000 on clothes in a single transaction.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Management isn’t a matter of knowing everything so much as knowing enough to ask the right questions and understand the answers.
What is your most annoying habit?
I have a reputation for being pedantic about grammar and punctuation.
Do you have any secret talents?
I’ve got the kind of memory that retains useless information and was once a contestant on a television pop quiz.
What book are you reading?
Marlborough: England’s Fragile Genius – Richard Holmes’ biography of the Duke of Marlborough.
Interview by Samuel Dale