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Kent Reliance chief executive attacks government policy for penalising amateur landlords

By Chris Price

The chief executive of the county’s largest buy-to-let lender has attacked government policy for squeezing the income of amateur landlords.

Andy Golding, the boss of Kent Reliance, said people who rent out property are “swallowing an unpleasant cocktail of higher taxation and tighter regulation”.

As a result, the landlord population is shifting away from people with second homes to large-scale experienced investors.

Fergus Wilson's lettings criteria is being considered by a court.

Fergus Wilson's lettings criteria is being considered by a court.

It comes as the Chatham-based bank, which makes the majority of its income from the private rented sector, releases its seventh Buy to Let Britain report.

It shows the number of households available for rent grew by just 2.2% nationally in the last 12 months, less than a third of the pace seen three years ago.

Despite this, the value of the private rented sector has continued to rise by 6.4% or £82.6 billion in the last year to £1.4 trillion, driven by rising house prices.

The report claims it is increasingly only large-scale professional landlords enjoying this growth as taxes and regulation have made it difficult for people interested in buying a second home to let.

From April last year, anyone buying a second property paid an additional 3% in stamp duty.

Kent Reliance Building Society transferred its business to new bank OneSavings Bank, which trades as Kent Reliance, in 2011

Kent Reliance Building Society transferred its business to new bank OneSavings Bank, which trades as Kent Reliance, in 2011

Mr Golding, who is chief executive of OneSavings Bank, which owns Kent Reliance, said: “Landlords are swallowing the unpleasant cocktail of higher taxation and tighter regulation, and this is undermining the expansion of the private rented sector.

“A fundamental shift in the landlord population is now underway, as buy-to-let moves from being a popular past-time for hundreds of thousands of British amateur landlords, to the preserve of committed long-term investors with experience and expertise.”

Although he said a more professional sector “is no bad thing”, he fears too many changes may lead to “a damaging reduction in supply”.

He said this would be “an outcome that would see rents increase for tenants and reduce their ability to save for a deposit for house purchase”.

OneSavings Bank's headquarters in Chatham Maritime

OneSavings Bank's headquarters in Chatham Maritime

Mr Golding also took aim at the government’s decision to abolish stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing a property worth up to £300,000, announced in last month’s Budget.

He said: “The need for a strong and stable private rented sector has not changed.

“The removal of stamp duty for 95% of first-time buyers should provide some help for those with savings, but it will also bolster house prices – the same side-effect Help To Buy is having.

“The housing market is significantly more complex than can be solved with some demand side stimulus.

“The private rented sector fulfils a vital role in our society and our economy, a role that needs to be reflected in an evolved housing policy.”

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