Calls for large scale build to rent projects to be exempt from new additional home tax

The property industry is urging the UK Government to protect large scale investment in residential property from a proposed higher rate of Stamp Duty for purchasing additional homes.

The British Property Federation says in its response to the consultation on the new tax that is due to be introduced in April that unless they are protected the housing industry risks losing much needed investment in new housing.

It warns that the higher rate of tax could cancel out the progress that the build to rent sector has made since 2011 with new data showing that there are now over 30,000 build to rent units with planning permission in the UK, a 47% increase since October, when the BPF calculated there to be 21,000 units with permission.

The BPF has noted that since the turn of the year there have been significant build to rent investment announcements made by the sector, these include Grainger Plc pledging to invest £850 million in the private rented sector by 2020.

Legal and General is working with Dutch pension fund PGGM to deliver a £600 million build to rent investment plan, Greystar Europe Holdings, one of the USA’s biggest housing investors, announcing the acquisition of a 26.5 acre site in Greenford, West London, on which it will develop the UK’s largest purpose built rented housing scheme and the Royal Bank of Scotland has pledged £1 billion in lending for the build to rent sector.
The BPF is calling for the introduction of a simple portfolio test to exempt institutional investors with 15 or more units in their portfolio from the additional tax.

‘Since the start of the year, there has been investment in the build to rent sector on a scale that we have never seen before. Following the changes that were made to SDLT a few years ago, investment in the sector has really taken off, and it is great to see pension funds and other institutions now investing heavily in housing,’ said Melanie Leech, BPF chief executive.

‘There is cross-party support for new housing and a better quality rented sector, and we would expect Government to recognise the impact that the SDLT surcharge might have on investment in new homes, and the creation of a better quality rental product,’ she added.

Without such an exemption there would be a significant negative impact on the sector, according to Andrew Stanford, UK residential fund manager at LaSalle Investment Management and chair of the BPF’s Build to Rent Committee.

‘LaSalle intends to provide good quality, built to rent homes across the country for customers on their journey to home ownership or for customers who want the flexibility and security of renting a home with a long term institutional landlord,’ he said.

‘We were encouraged by the proposed exemption for large scale investors from the additional 3% SDLT charges. If the exemption was not implemented it would have a significant negative impact on our ability to invest in the nascent build to rent sector,’ he added.

Adam Challis, head of residential research at JLL, believes that the build to rent sector has a real opportunity to improve both the quantity and quality of private rented properties. ‘The 3% SDLT charge would undermine this once in a generation opportunity to give renters a better deal,’ he said.