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Antony Antoniou – Luxury Property Expert

Labour will impose the greatest assault on property rights in living memory

Labour will impose the greatest assault on property rights in living memory

Labour will impose the greatest assault on property rights in living memory

Landlords are already treated as punchbags – it’s about to get worse

The Greatest Threat in Living Memory

Labour has come a long way since Jeremy Corbyn called for seizing empty luxury homes to house the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and suggested extending the “Right to Buy” scheme to tenants of private landlords – a policy that would have essentially forced property owners to sell at a discounted rate. However, the party’s attitude towards property rights still poses a clear and present danger to homeowners, the housing market, and the broader UK economy.

Banning Property Sales

The Opposition recently tabled an amendment to the Renters Reform Bill that would have prohibited landlords from selling their properties within the first two years of a new tenancy. It is unclear what issue this amendment aimed to address, as tenants’ rights are already protected by law and cannot be curtailed by a new landlord if a property is sold before the rental contract expires. If the contract has ended, landlords can issue a Section 21 notice, giving two months’ notice to vacate, as they would if they wanted to terminate the agreement under other circumstances. It is no wonder that property owners are plunging to new depths of despair.

The War on Landlords

In a country that refuses to build new homes despite soaring demand, the war on landlords is only going to intensify. Successive Conservative governments have already treated them like punching bags, presumably because adopting the Left’s rhetoric and subjecting them to ever-increasing regulation and punitive taxation is easier than tackling the root causes of our housing shortage.

Regulatory Burden

There are now over 170 pieces of legislation to which landlords must comply, including strict local authority licensing requirements, a responsibility to check if tenants have the right to rent a property, and rules on protecting tenants’ deposits in a government-approved scheme. Last year, the introduction of Section 24 restricted the ability of unincorporated landlords to deduct mortgage interest and other finance costs (such as mortgage arrangement fees) against their rental income for tax purposes.

Labour’s Intended Crackdown

But what little control these property owners have retained will be eroded further by an incoming Labour government. The Opposition has made no secret of its intention to ban so-called “no-fault evictions,” though the idea that landlords should have the right to reclaim their property after an agreed period is hardly controversial. And who will resist, considering so many politicians seem to believe the narrative peddled by campaigners that landlords are evicting good tenants on a whim before their contract has expired?

Policies in Wales and London

The assault on property rights under Labour will not stop there. In Wales, which offers a glimpse into our future, a Labour administration has handed councils the power to charge up to 300% council tax or force second homeowners to rent their properties for half the year. The Labour Mayor of London has consistently demanded rent controls across the capital. And Keir Starmer’s party is committed to scrapping the leasehold system, which allows more people to get onto the property ladder, while the Right to Buy discount will be slashed.

Wealth Tax Looming?

A wealth tax, for all the protestations, should not be ruled out: not even Labour politicians can believe that their many spending pledges will be met solely by closing non-domicile loopholes and slapping VAT on private school fees.

Ineffective Policies

None of these policies will work, of course. Rent controls in Scotland have substantially worsened Edinburgh’s housing crisis. The Conservative assault on landlords has pushed thousands into selling up as fewer enter the market, lowering the stock available to renters.

A Terrifying Shift

But it is the broader shift – away from the position that private property rights ought to be protected at all costs, towards one where the state can do as it chooses with what we own – that is most terrifying. Property rights, along with the rule of law, are the foundation of our prosperity, yet Britain is now doggedly chipping away at them.

The Calamitous Consequences

The situation is bad under the Conservatives; under Labour, it will be calamitous, even without Corbyn in charge. The party’s attitude towards property rights poses a clear and present danger to homeowners, the housing market, and the wider UK economy. The assault on landlords and property owners, coupled with ill-conceived policies like rent controls and wealth taxes, will only exacerbate the housing crisis and undermine the foundations of our prosperity.

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