PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Stopping the VOA from re-banding HMOs | Government allowing buy to let crisis to continue

Andrew Stanton’s daily proptech & property news in association with Estate Agent Networking

NEVO: How to stop VOA from using HMOs as a piggy bank

COMMENT: If you operate HMOs you probably know you are in the sights of the VOA (Valuations Office Agency). They have been using HMOs as their personal piggy bank and acting like the Sheriff of Nottingham for nearly a decade. The VOA has been arbitrarily treating normal bedrooms as dwellings and the knock-on effect has been devastating for landlords, agents, rent-to-rent operators and the most vulnerable people in the PRS. Well, fear not, because a group of heroes are fighting back!

Daryn Brewer and Wendy Whittaker-Large are leading the charge to stop this unfair practice and stop operators from being lumped with a higher tax bill. They have been at the front lines, fighting and lobbying on our behalf.

Wendy and Darryn have conducted one of the most successful landlord campaigns I can think of and with the help of the HMO Council Tax committee they’ve had a string of successes.

However, they need your help to get this over the finishing line. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take back the power from the VOA!

So what’s going on? The VOA has been using its “discretion” to re-band HMOs and charge HMO operators and tenants higher taxes. Darryn and Wendy, however, are proposing amendment NC7 to the “Levelling Up Bill” that is currently going through parliament.

There’s a consultation underway and your voice matters. The good news is we have put together a handy document with draft responses to make it easy for you to submit your response and have your say.

Now, we know consultations aren’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world. They’re like the broccoli of the political process – but trust us, this is important. To make things easier we have a “cheat sheet” for you.

We have given you the ideal answers to the questions. You can copy the answers word for word or adapt them for your own purposes and we would also encourage you to send this to your tenants as well, so they will not be on the receiving end of this unfair tax.

Together, we can put an end to room re-banding and keep more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket. Let’s show the VOA that we’re not just a bunch of easy targets.

Visit the link, enter your email address and you will receive an e-mail with all the information you need including a document you can simply copy and paste into an e-mail or amend accordingly (also available for download), plus a document you can send to your tenants which they can copy and paste into an e-mail.

Neil Chadda, Founder of NEVO


PRESS RELEASE: Landlords are continuing to quit the sector and fewer people than ever are now interested in buy-to-let investments, an expert has claimed. 

Jonathan Rolande said the crisis is being deepened by a Government who view landlords “with indifference”.

Mr Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers, said: “Landlords are in the peculiar position of being a minority apparently hated by all sides. Those struggling to buy their own home often blame them for pushing up prices, having created scarcity in the market. Tenants see them as profiteering from the crisis in housing, pushing up rents needlessly and being slow to spend money on repairs.”

Commenting on the lack of support those in the sector currently receive, he continued: “The government seems to view them with indifference neither supporting them nor providing any kind of strategy to make them unnecessary. There is an attitude of ‘well if they don’t want to be a landlord, someone else will’, which means many are choosing to quit the sector already disgruntled by legislation that has made the business of renting out property far less profitable. It’s also a legal obstacle course where minor errors can trip up the unwary, often with huge financial implications.”

Mr Rolande said forthcoming regulations will only make the situation worse. 

He added: “With more legislation on the way – EPC changes will cost many landlords dearly – it is hard to see why anyone would still want to buy-to-let given that there seems little prospect of capital growth and returns. 

“In their rush to re-balance the market in favour of tenants and home buyers, the government seems to have overlooked an important point: owner-occupiers pay more than landlords. Partly because of tax breaks, higher loan-to-value mortgages and lower interest rates, owners will almost always outbid an investor buyer.

“We may soon end up in a situation where much-needed homes disappear from the rental market forever, before any housing stock has been built to replace it. Already beleaguered tenants will face fewer choices and inevitably, higher rents. With landlords facing this death by a thousand cuts policy, it seems once again that it will be those that can least afford it and have the fewest options that will suffer in the end.”

Proptech and Property News in association with Estate Agent Networking.

Andrew Stanton is the founder and CEO of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder and editor of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.

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