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Recent tax and legislation - How it affects the investor?

8th May 2009

Empty rates taxation:

Central government still ignore property industry protestation, about the demolition of perfectly usable premises, to avoid Empty Rate charges.

Non domestic rates are collected by local government, but remitted to central government. This tax has been left in place during one of the world’s worst recessionary periods. Due to this lots of companies have folded and Chartered Surveyors have reported a 65% rise in available floor space.

The government have seen a massive drop in Stamp duty income while the housing market ground to a halt. I guess to recoup some of that lost tax income; they will remove the empty rate exemption for commercial property shooting themselves in the foot. Why?  Many commercial property owners would rather demolish a building with little or no chance of a letting for several years than pay the rates. I expect the government call it “government led rejuvenation” or some such spin.

What this means for the investor:

In reality usable stock is being demolished. Local authority planners should bend over backwards to assist property owners to find alternative uses, before industrial and warehouse estates are raised to the ground, offices are turned to residential units and the High Street looks bombed out.
Residential landlord registration:

The government are considering the compulsory registration for all residential landlords. ARLA (association of residential letting agents) also suggest that to protect landlord’s rents and tenant’s deposits all letting agents should be registered. The scheme is designed to safeguard the tenant’s initial holding deposit and to act to resolve disputes concerning the deposit.

There are a growing number of unregulated letting agents who go out of business with the resultant loss of monies belonging to landlords and tenants. Most older recognised institutions, like the RICS have in place regulations to protect client’s monies.

What this means for the investor:

A more even playing field between regulated and unregulated agents and registered and unregistered landlords can only improve the market and make it more transparent.
If you are the landlord dealing with deposits, you must protect monies that do not belong to you and if you cannot satisfy the prospective tenant that deposit monies are protected, then you may lose a letting.

Tenants will be more inclined to go to the private investor managing his/her own property as they are offered protection for the deposit that will be required and a fair way to resolve disputes that effect the level of returned deposit.

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