‘Landlords feel victimised by local councils’ – Report

Local councils are targeting buy-to-let landlords with ‘stealth taxes’, according to a news report.

The Daily Telegraph claims that many landlords feel they are subject to a raft of ‘new and unfair charges’ which have hit their ability to run their properties and profit from them.

The two main areas where private landlords feel they are being victimised focuses on selective licensing and council taxes.

With selective licensing, councils ask landlords to sign up to a register which comes at a cost.

However, there is variance between register fees from 200 pounds per property up to 1,100.

Apart from the variance and the suspicion that fees may be used by councils to raise capital rather than simply administrating the registration, the sign up is voluntary, which means only responsible landlords will be penalised.

David Lawrenson of Lettingfocus.com told the Telegraph: “Licensing in certain areas might work. But across whole boroughs it doesn’t. It can hurt legitimate, responsible landlords – and the rogue landlords simply won’t sign up. They will continue below the radar.”

Council Tax

The other source of landlord’s ire towards local councils, says the Telegraph, is council tax.

Discretionary powers awarded local councils in April 2013 allowed them to alter discounts and exemptions for property owners and tenants.

This has left landlords exposed to amendments to Class C exemptions, namely level of council tax liability when homes are empty.

Previously, landlords could be exempted council tax when a home was left empty for six months then half the rate after that, affording landlords valuable breathing space to refurbish properties, for example.

However, councils can now choose to levy the full rate from the first day of a home being vacant which clearly cuts into profitability for landlords.

While both measures are causes for real concern for private landlords, the Telegraph report concludes that many may not gain much public sympathy.

The lack of affordable housing for many leaves them reluctant renters and not naturally disposed of good will towards landlords.