Tory policy shapers are blaming UK expats who buy homes to rent out while living abroad as one of the causes of the housing crisis.
A controversial study written by Tory MP Neil O’Brien and published by centre-right think-tank Onward is urging the government to act against buy to let landlords to avert worsening housing problems.
The think-tank is headed by Will Tanner, Prime Minister Theresa May’s ex deputy head of policy, while Harborough MP O’Brien was special adviser to May and former Chancellor George Osborne.
The report claims 2.2 million families are locked out of owning a home because too many landlords have snapped up homes to rent out.
Call to axe generous tax reliefs
And that if the Tories want support from renters at the next election, they must tackle the problem with some drastic action.
This should include, say O’Brien and Tanner, banning foreigners from buying property in the UK, including expats who now live overseas.
“We can’t solve the housing problem with one hand tied behind our backs. As well as building more homes, we need to change the balance between the rented sector and home ownership,” said O’Brien.
“We should protect existing landlords but discourage more people from investing in rental property, because the buy-to-let boom has bid up prices and reduced home ownership among younger people.
“To build more homes we need to deal with the underlying reasons why people oppose so much new development. Today, too many homes are built in exactly the places which maximise public opposition, tacked onto the edges of existing settlements, or else crammed next to existing houses.”
Tanner also wants to scrap tax relief for landlords.
“If the government wants to regain the support of young people and win the next election, it must be unflinching in its pursuit of greater home ownership,” he said.
“That means making some hard choices, like ending tax breaks for new landlords and giving councils much stronger powers to assemble land for new towns and villages. “