The Autumn Statement – some welcome news but a missed opportunity

The Society of Licensed Conveyancers (SLC) offered a mixed reaction to the content of the Autumn Statement made by Chancellor Philip Hammond on Wednesday.

First of all the Society warmly welcomed the news that the Land Registry will remain in public ownership which is something that it has lobbied for over several years. This should take away any
uncertainty for Land Registry CEO Graham Farrant and his team so that they can concentrate on increasing the coverage of the Register and eliminating the backlogs in first registrations and more complex transactions.

The SLC was disappointed however that the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to reverse the very damaging reforms that his predecessor George Osborne made in his attack on private sector
landlords. The increased SDLT obligation and scrapping for mortgage interest relief for tax purposes will not only increase rents for tenants (mostly at the lower end of the social spectrum) but also contribute to a depressed housing market in terms of transaction levels.

Simon Law, SLC Chairman said: “We are delighted that the Land Registry is going to remain in public ownership and we look forward to working with their Executive in a number of areas that should improve the overall home buying and selling experience for consumers. We are less than happy however that the Chancellor has not heeded calls to reverse the very damaging attack made by George Osborne on private sector landlords. The level of housing market transactions will be adversely impacted in a way that is damaging to the economy and will ultimately put up rents for hard pressed tenants.”

The SLC was not convinced of the benefits of the Chancellors proposal to ban letting agent’s fees for tenants. “At the end of the day these charges will end being paid by tenants in rent and will thus be less transparent than when applied directly. It will be more difficult to identify the behaviour of rogue agents.” added Simon Law.

This article was submitted to be published by The Society of Licensed Conveyancers as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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