The Autumn Budget 2017 – how will it affect the property sector?

23 November 2017

On 22 November Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first Autumn Budget.  The Budget had good news for the residential building sector as the Chancellor set an ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes per year – a target which has not been met since the 1970s.

The Chancellor placed a further £15.3 billion in new financial support to house builders, bringing the total to £44 billion.  This included £1.2 billion for the Government to buy land to build more homes and £2.7 billion for infrastructure which supports housing.

This target will be difficult to reach, especially with developers’ margins being reduced to increase costs with shortages of trainee staff, funding and materials.   The Chancellor hopes the increase in the number of homes will reduce house prices to allow housing to become more affordable.  This would seem to be counterproductive.

The reduction of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for first time buyers is welcome.  The first £300,000 will be exempt from all duty and the next £200,000 will be at the reduced rate of 5%.  While this will assist the market, note that this only applies to England and Northern Ireland, plus Wales until March 2018, who will then follow Scotland on having their own SDLT system.

There were also some negatives for the property industry in the Budget, including a crackdown on empty houses, with the Chancellor announcing that councils will be able to charge 200% of the normal council tax rate to unoccupied properties.

For property investment companies the allowance for inflation on the cost of property will stop in December 2017 so future Capital Gains Tax within companies will increase.

Overseas landlords on commercial properties will be subject to UK Capital Gains Tax from April 2019.  It is proposed that only the gains from April 2019 value will be chargeable.

Additionally, overseas landlords operating as a company will switch from paying UK Income Tax to paying Corporation Tax.  This allows the current interest restrictions and loss relief provisions to apply.  The plan is to roll this out in April 2020.

For private landlords there is to be a review of the ‘Rent a Room’ relief and its future, whilst there was a relaxation of rules for property rental businesses to allow them to claim mileage rates from April 2018.

If you wish to discuss how these changes may affect your specific circumstances, please contact me or another member of the team.