The latest UK mortgage lending figures show heavy taxes and red tape have failed to curb buy-to-let growth, much to the likely annoyance of ministers.
Trade organisation UK Finance’s mortgage lending analysis for the first quarter of 2020 shows buy-to-let (BTL) lending up 7%, while lending to first time buyers continues to decline – despite the government’s expensive Help to Buy scheme.
Its drive to reduce the private rental market and free up stock for first-time buyers looks to be stalling, as the report states: “While we had seen purchases within the BTL sector improve considerably over the past year, following a decline due to tax and regulatory changes that started in 2016, we had seen material growth in this sector from December 2019 onwards.
“This recent growth in BTL purchase has helped to offset first-time buyer numbers, which have been declining slightly since October 2019.”
John Goodall, CEO at Landbay, says his company saw an even greater increase in the buy-to-let market.
“While the Coronavirus lockdown from mid-March has hampered this, there is still a notable demand from landlords and investors. The figures showed a drop in first-time buyers even before Covid-19 hit and following the pandemic it’s highly likely that people will be renting for much longer, so the need for private buy-to-let will be greater than ever.”
However, the National Residential Landlords Association warns that one set of figures shouldn’t be taken out of the longer term context.
Deputy policy director John Stewart says: “According to the Government’s data between March 2018 and 2019, the number of private rented homes in England fell by 49,000.
“We need to end the approach of picking winners and losers in the housing market. The Government needs to develop pro-growth policies to boost the supply of homes in the owner occupied, private rented and social rented sectors.”