Budget plea

Call to axe tax on older buyers to ease housing crisis

Construction, housebuilding
Measures are demanded to help housing crisis (pic: Terry Murden)

Propertymark, an estate agents membership group, has called for a tax exemption for older buyers as part of a package of measures to tackle the housing emergency in Scotland.

Ahead of next week’s Scottish Budget, its proposals focus on increasing housing availability, a fairer private rental sector and reducing energy bills.

It wants to see more housing built for older people and incentives for downsizing, including a land and buildings transaction tax exemption for ‘last-time’ buyers.

Other recommendations include providing interest-free loans and grants to refurbish empty properties, support for the decarbonisation of Scottish homes and a review of property tax policies affecting the private rental sector.

Propertymark also advises against the continuation of rent controls and the moratorium on evictions. The rent cap, which currently limits rent increases to 3% from April 2023 to March 2024, has been blamed on dwindling supply, pushing up the cost of new rentals.

The proposals are in response to the ongoing challenges in Scotland’s housing market, exacerbated by public finance constraints, the impacts of Covid, Brexit, and the cost of living crisis.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, said: “Propertymark and our member agents recognise the key challenges that the Scottish Government faces with continued constraints on public finances, challenges from Covid, Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis.

“However, action is needed to address the housing emergency in Scotland and increase the number of places and homes for people to buy and rent as well as support the move towards decarbonisation and help reduce energy bills in people’s homes.”

Commenting on the situation last month he noted that landlords are restricted to loans of up to £15,000 for energy efficiency improvements and in December last year the Scottish government raised the Additional Dwelling Supplement to 6% of the purchase price when buying a buy to let property. He said this meant Scotland is now the most expensive place to invest in the private rented sector across the UK.

“The Scottish government need to urgently review all taxes and costs impacting private landlords and agents in order to tackle the housing emergency and introduce policies that don’t stifle growth and bring down the cost of renting,” said Mr Douglas.

Edinburgh and Glasgow councils are among those that have declared housing emergencies.

A record- breaking 15,000 Scots are homeless or in temporary accommodation, with the number of rough sleepers on the rise.

New government figures show the number of all-sector new build homes completed in Scotland decreased by 6% in the latest year to end September 2023.

Housing association new build starts decreased by 34% and local authority new build starts decreased by 50%.

Figures also revealed that social rent homes approvals have hit their lowest number since 2015, and affordable housing starts were down by a starting 24% since 2022.

The Scottish Budget for 2024-25 is due to be presented on 19 December.



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