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Our joint response to Scottish Government proposal to increase tax for additional property

Monday 14 January 2019

ARLA Propertymark and NAEA Propertymark have issued a joint response in response to the Scottish Government's proposals to increase the Additional Dwelling Supplement.

The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) supplement was introduced on 1 April 2016 for purchases of additional residential properties in Scotland (such as buy-to-let properties and second homes) of £40,000 or more. The new proposals, first announced by Finance Secretary Derek Mackay on 12 December as part of the Budget Statement, would see the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) increase from three per cent to four per cent, which would impact on landlords, tenants and ultimately the buyers market in Scotland.

We argue that the the proposal is short-sighted and that, if implemented, it will act as a further deterrent to buy to let investors. The extra cost incurred by landlords will then simply be passed on to tenants though increased rent. With rental cost across much of Scotland rising faster than the rest of the UK, we consider that the direction of travel by the Scottish Government is wrong and we would like to see the ADS scrapped altogether. 

Increasing the ADS would also have a knock on effect, in that tenants will find it increasingly difficult to put money aside for a deposit to buy their own place. We argue that the Scottish Government would be better off pursuing an advanced homebuilding programme which would encourage first-time buyers. 

The increase comes at a time when the number of private rented properties available on the market is showing a slight downturn since the introduction of ADS in April 2016. Furthermore in the Scottish Governments own research, 27 per cent of landlords who were surveyed said that they were planning to exit the sector within the next five years, which could deplete private rental stock further still. This could result in tenancies being terminated, putting people closer to the bread-line, and ultimately could increase homelessness. A decrease in private rented stock will take away much needed housing that makes up the shortfall between social housing and home ownership, which will need to be remedied through public funding towards more social housing.

In our own report - Housing 2025 - data indicated that in the period from 2015 to 2025, house prices could increase by up to 50 per cent. In 2015, the Scottish average mix-adjusted house price was £196,799, in 2025 this figure is expected to stand at £281,445. Tenants paying higher rents as house prices increase will make home ownership much harder to achieve, resulting in the Scottish Government achieving less LBTT for non-second home residential sales.

If we can persuade the Scottish Government to overturn the ADS payments as well as helping to slow escalating rents there would be a knock-on effect of decreased expenditure by the Government on discretionary housing payments, which are used to bulk up any shortfall in the rent paid by tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.  

Read our full response