As much as I love to hear a man called Darling talking about fiscal stimulus and ‘roll-over relief’, there was very little excitement in this year’s Budget.
With the exception of a well-rehearsed set piece about Belize-based non-doms, the Chancellor’s last Budget before the General Election was as predicted: ‘workman-like’ and, depending on your view point, either sensible or downright dull.
After years of Gordon Brown’s prudent deliveries, landlords have learned to watch the Budget with a mix of expectation and trepidation, as the Government tinkers at the edges of various capital allowances and available tax reliefs.
Only after spending a few hours pouring through 200 to 300 pages of economic statements is it possible to make more than an educated guess about the outcome of a modern day budget.
Fortunately, the NLA relishes the prospect of scouring the Red Book in order to make sense of it all and weigh up the newly revised pros and cons of investing in property.
So what is the verdict? Should landlords run for the hills or is it time for a new Merc?
Well, probably best to do neither at the moment.
Of all of Mr Darling’s announcements, there are perhaps only three of direct relevance to a landlord’s business:
- The Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold is to be raised to £250,000 for first-time buyers – not likely to have a huge impact on the average landlord but it may provide that final push to some tenants to take their first step onto the property ladder.
- A new 5 per cent top rate of SDLT for properties transactions in excess of £1 million is to be introduced. Due to the way that bulk purchases are valued in relation to SDLT this could mean that landlords buying multiple properties in one go will pay significantly more tax.
- When calculating average rent levels for Local Housing Allowance the most expensive properties are to be excluded from the calculation. Exactly how this will be accomplished is not entirely clear – but it could impact on the top LHA rates in some areas.
On reflection, may be not the greatest result for landlords, but not exactly a disaster for most.
Plus, there is always the chance that within a few months a new Government will scrap the whole package and start again.