Damned foreigners coming over here and taking all our…erm… rental properties.
No. Not living in them, although there have been alarming reports of eastern European migrants stacked 12 to a bedroom in certain HMOs. No, these undesired aliens are buying them. Reaping the rewards of our booming British economy, while pushing property values and rents ever higher.
Well, no more!
Just as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 are pushing Johnny Foreigner back across the channel, upcoming legislation, announced by Theresa May at the Conservative party conference, will force those dastardly invaders to retreat from their beacheads, and into their boats and private jets.
As of January 2018, 97,000 properties in England and Wales were owned by foreign entities, either individuals or corporations. As a proportion of the total rented homes in the UK, it’s a tiny amount. Barely over 1%. But it appears to be growing. According to Savilles, in 2013 / 2014, 7% of all residential property sales in the Greater London area were to overseas buyers. In the so-called ‘prime’ areas of London, that figure rose to 32%. While a good proportion of these were as primary residences or second homes, 5% of these were bought as ‘investments.
Whew. That was one hell of a paragraph.
During the same period, 49% of London properties worth over £1 million (these figures are from five years ago, remember) were to foreign nationals, and 28% to people not even resident in the UK.
By themselves, those figures are bad enough and go some way towards bolstering the Smith report’s explanation of the insane growth in house prices – especially considering that 15% of buyers originated in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union (It should come as no surprise that the report suspects organised crime as being behind a fair proportion of purchases).
It’s criminal foreigners who are behind the scandalous rent every tenant has to pay as well as the flensingly high prices that honest British landlords are forced to shell out for their HMOs.
So what is our fiercely patriotic, ambiguously xenophobic government planning? Laws which prohibit obscenely wealthy sovereign wealth funds and Moldovan gangsters from operating in this country?
No that’s not possible. There is currently no way of finding out which individuals or even secondary companies actually owns or benefits from a shell company bagging bargains in Brixton.
Perhaps a system which required property buyers to maintain a permanent presence on these sceptered isles?
Again not possible.
No. Mrs May is to impose a stamp duty rise of up to 3% to be “paid by individuals and companies not paying tax in the UK.” That’s it. Nothing else.
But who are we to doubt this nation’s greatest negotiator and maven of foreign affairs?
A bold package of sanctions indeed.
All rise for God Save The Queen.