Stamp duty devolution would spur on the Northern Irish market

Estate agents in Northern Ireland reckon the country needs to be able to set its own stamp duty land tax rates to encourage property investment.

Propertymark held a focus group of property agents from Northern Ireland, and found that only 12% reckon the tax should remain at current levels.

Considering the impact SDLT has on the availability of housing stock, over half of Propertymark members surveyed stated that the amount of SDLT paid should be decreased or the threshold should be set in a way that encourages first time buyers to enter the market and others to downsize.

A further 35% stated that property taxes should be aligned at a local level rather than as a reflection of UK house prices.

Propertymark stressed that by decreasing the amount of SDLT being paid and also removing the current additional supplement of 3% that is paid when buying a second home, more people will be inclined to invest in rental properties, reducing the impact of landlords leaving the sector.

The industry body has said that greater control over stamp duty rates and thresholds will enable the Executive to ensure taxation reflects house prices in Northern Ireland and respond more effectively to price changes.

The Northern Ireland Executive is the devolved government of the country, made up of the first minister, deputy first minister, and eight departmental ministers.

Propertymark members have described the market in Northern Ireland as being “dead on its feet” for several reasons.

These include a drastic decrease in available properties having halved between March 2019 and March 2022, with many landlords reducing their portfolios. This has led to situations where renters pay above the asking price for rent or struggle to find places to move.

The UK government made changes to Section 24 of the Finance Act, which resulted in landlords having their tax relief reduced since 2015 including the withdrawal of tax relief on mortgage interest relief and the introduction of an additional 3% charge when buying a second home.

The opportunity to devolve SDLT, could pave the way for the Northern Ireland Executive to discuss the impact of Section 24 changes, with the UK government and seek further improvements to the tax system for landlords in Northern Ireland.

The Private Tenancies Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 will require landlords to meet new standards, including energy efficiency and electrical safety standards. While Propertymark agrees with promoting higher standards within the sector, it believes that this will come with increased costs to landlords which may cause some to exit the industry.

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