In his Autumn Statement this week, Chancellor George Osbourne announced a 3% surcharge on the ordinary rate of stamp duty, the land tax paid by purchasers of property in the UK.
This 3% increase above the normal rate, would suggest that the government is looking to raise the barriers to buy-to-let investors and those looking for second homes, whilst improving the situation for first time buyers at the lower to middle part of the market.
Whilst this may well be the case, the unknown would be what effect such a move will have on the availability of privately owned rental property to the market, and any potential increase in rents as landlords look to cover these increased costs. With a clear lack of council properties, and in fact any sort of affordable housing, private rental property is an important aspect of the property market for large numbers of people.
The move coincides with changes to Capital Gains Tax and tax relief available to private landlords.
It has brought strong comment from The National Landlords Association in particular, whose Chief Executive, Richard Lambert, commented "The Chancellor's political intention is crystal clear; he wants to choke off future investment in private properties to rent. If it's the Chancellor's intention to completely eradicate buy-to-let in the UK then it's a mystery to us why he doesn't just come out and say so".
On the other side of the debate, Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter, said "We welcome measures to increase stamp duty for buy-to-let and second homes, and that this money will be spent to build more homes. But the Chancellor can't ignore the fact that home ownership schemes like starter homes or shared ownership won't work for many, so building more genuinely affordable homes to rent is still absolutely essential."
Time will tell whether the planned changes effect the market in a positive or negative way, but there will certainly be plenty of discussion and speculation in the meantime.