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The 9th of June was the most important day of the 2016 landlord calendar. It was the day that 600 landlords gathered in London for the "Tenant Tax" Summit to show solidarity and ramp up the fight against Section 24, George Osborne's highly damaging legacy for landlords.The "highlights" video is now published and explains why EVERY landlord needs to wake up to the threat - and what you can do to lend your support:PLEASE DONATE TO THE COMMUNICATIONS FUND NOW
Axe the Tenant Tax – Ten Point Plan
The following ten-point-plan outlines a powerful, effective and multi-faceted campaign designed to fight back against the Government’s all-out attack against the private rented sector.
It has been created in partnership with Westbourne Communications, a highly respected, effective and professional London-based communications agency. We have also integrated feedback and ideas from more than 600 landlords, letting agents, landlord associations and speakers who attended the Axe the Tenant Tax Summit on 9th June 2016.
We need your help to raise the funds, so that the team at Westbourne can work with us and turn the ten-point-plan into a reality:
(Please note that none of the funds raised come to us (Steve Bolton and Chris Cooper). In fact, we have both invested significant sums of money and very substantial amounts of time into the campaign and we will continue to do so without any form of reward).
Legal challenge – Our starting point was a Judicial Review of the Tenant Tax. This is underway and progressing and more than £150,000 has been raised to date from more than 1,000 donors. The greatest risk to the legal challenge comes from not securing enough funding to put forward the best possible case with the best legal team we can assemble. Our broad, effective and ongoing communications campaign with Westbourne is critical to raise greater awareness, which in turn will lead to more funding for the legal challenge.
‘Axe Tenant Tax Coalition’ – We already have many landlord associations, letting agents and thousands of landlords working together as a coalition. To do more on this front and keep the coalition momentum growing, we need extra funding to really be effective and get more organisations and individuals on board. Our goal is to amplify the voices of the existing organisations, rather than setting up a new one. The ‘Axe the Tenant Tax Coalition’ is an inclusive umbrella that the industry has started to and can continue to get behind.
Media and PR – In the first six months of 2016 alone, over 1,000 media articles have covered the Axe the Tenant Tax campaign and our Judicial Review. All major newspapers and TV channels have given coverage to our cause but we need to keep our messaging on point and ensure that the great coverage we have had to date continues. The media needs to be fed the right messages at the right times and relationships need to be nurtured. Media coverage is critical in raising awareness, applying pressure and generating the ongoing funding needed for both the legal challenge and the communications campaigns.
Powerful and effective messaging – Effective messaging is also a critical component of our campaigning. Without it our chances of success are radically reduced. We need to make the case that Section 24 truly is a Tenant Tax. These changes are bad tax policy which will push up rents and worsen the UK housing crisis. We know this is true because a similar policy-experiment failed in Ireland. Educating and engaging tenants with our messages is also critical and a number of campaigns are ready to be actioned once we have the funding needed to get started. The fact that landlords provide affordable homes for millions of people and provide an important and valuable service to society is also a point that needs to be made much more strongly. These and other messages need to be refined and promoted far and wide and in a manner that will make them media friendly.
Social media and multi-media campaign - Effective social media and multi-media (written, audio, video, face-to-face) strategies and campaigns are also a vital ingredient as part of the mix and a key component of our campaign plans. They have played an important role in both raising awareness and fund-raising to date but have much more potential in future. Both written and video case studies and stories also needed to be collected and shared far and wide.
Grassroots mobilisation – The Axe the Tenant Tax campaign is a grassroots, not-for-profit cause that has made great progress in the first six months. However, only 3,000 out of a possible two million landlords are aware and supporting our cause. This represents just 0.0015% of the total number of landlords in the UK and therefore we need to find ways to mobilise as many of the remaining 99.9985% who are currently sleep-walking into disaster. The people affected by this tax directly and indirectly need to know what is going on and how they can get involved.
Mobilising advocates – We need to find and nurture more advocates and champions who back our cause. Currently there are only a handful of Lords, MPs and industry bodies who are aware of Section 24 and actually understand it and speak out against it. Part of our work needs to be to find and educate more advocates in positions of influence and to get them to champion our cause.
Lobbying – Along with the work being carried out by the major landlord organisations, we need to fight our corner better in Westminster. It must be made clear that the unjust all-out-attack on the buy-to-let sector will compound the housing crisis and have many unintended negative consequences. Putting increasing pressure on Government, and making our case to Parliament, is a vital strand of activity that needs to keep growing.
Research and data – Facts and data add real weight to all professional communications campaigns and they can be highly effective in influencing people and changing opinions. The fact that a very similar tax was introduced in Ireland in 1998 and had disastrous consequences, is just one example that shows how research and accurate data can help to make our case much more powerfully. Detailed analysis of how many more tenants around the country will have to pay in rent will be both media friendly and will help to make a powerful and influential point. These and other ideas are part of our ongoing communications strategy.
Axe the Tenant Tax website – We need to invest into the http://www.tenanttax.co.uk website, which was originally created and used to promote the Tenant Tax Summit on 9th June 2016. Since that event has now passed, the site needs to be changed and updated so that it becomes the central point of entry for the Axe the Tenant Tax campaign. We have plans to improve it greatly and to include information, resources and action packs to help empower, educate and mobilise ever-growing levels of support.
All of the above is only possible if we raise the funding we need to engage Westbourne Communications and work with them on an ongoing basis. A highly effective communications strategy and team will also give us the best chance of success in raising the funds we need for the legal challenge. It also give us the chance to really change opinions in the right places, so that we can either win the legal battle or force a U-turn or major policy dilution.PLEASE DONATE TO THE COMMUNICATIONS FUND NOW Please use these status up-dates to share on twitter: Video highlights of the @TenantTax Summit - landlords get involved! Your business depends on it! http://ow.ly/kupE302wXpk #property@PHammondMP Please watch this important video and please stop the Tenant Tax this Autumn. UK housing depends on it! http://ow.ly/kupE302wXpk@GavinBarwellMP Please watch this vital video and help us stop the Tenant Tax - your job might depend on it! http://ow.ly/kupE302wXpk@PHammondMP and @GavinBarwellMP. Please watch this and speak together about Section 24 - Finance Act 2015. Thanks. http://ow.ly/kupE302wXpkRelated content:Government sets out Section 24 roll outLandlord apathy will be the death of usLettings agents need to wake up to Section 24 Tenants face Section 24 tax bombshell say LLs Section 24 - landlords must take action now Lender apathy will be the death of us
Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**
Appreciate the highlights, but I would love to see the full conference
It would be like a sort of box set
One which I would avidly watch from beginning to end!!
I suggest that many LL would wish to see the full conference
So that eventually and hopefully the audience will have been hundreds of thousands or even over a million!
I'm sure most of those who attended will have spoken for the vast majority of LL who didn't attend
So I'd love to sit through the full unedited conference.
Perhaps in future a sort of webinar could be arranged to that live streaming of such a meeting could occur.
There are many LL who have flats
There is usually a noticeboard for residents
I have 5 blocks on my development
Most are let out and yet I know none of the LL
Will the resource packs include a small A4 notice asking LL and their tenants to understand about C24
Even to request that tenants advise their LL of the C24 issue.
It might be a way for tenants to disseminate this vital information to ignorant LL!?
Thank you for your support Paul. It is appreciated.
I have already pledged to the marketing and other JR campaign
Have you any idea what each of the previous pledgers would need to pay to resource the next part of the JR campaign
There are only about 750 of us currently pledging.
I'd hate the campaign to stop because of a shortfall in campaign funds.
If I know what might be required from the 750 I could possibly start saving for the next pledge requirement!
After all those who pledged for the WBBS action pledged thousands and eventually won and have recovered all their monies.
I have worked out my tax bill will increase by £6000 with NO increase in profits!!
So I desperately need C24 overturned.
So for me pledging possibly thousands would be financially efficacious
With my investment timeline of another 9 years not having C24 would save me paying £72000 in tax!!!
Gareth Wilson has written an "open letter" to the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond.You can find it here.Please use it as a template to write to your local MP, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell, and of course, to create more traction with Philip Hammond.In other news:
Commenting on the new report by the Taxpayers Alliance published today which warns that tenants will be hurt by recent tax grabs on landlords as rents rise, Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said:
“Today’s report is another damning indictment of the Government’s tax grab on landlords.
“Recent tax changes will see many landlords increase rents. This will make it harder for tenants to save for a deposit for a home of their own. It will go against everything the Government claims it wants.
“A tax system that encourages rather than damages housing supply would boost revenue for the Treasury and cut costs for tenants.
“Ahead of the Autumn Statement there is now an opportunity for the new Government to think again about its tax on new housing.”
IMPORTANT JUDICIAL REVIEW UPDATE - COURT RULING RECEIVED
After several months of waiting, we have finally heard back from the court regarding our judicial review.
We need to have an additional procedural hearing before permission can be granted. Whilst we are naturally disappointed that permission was not granted without the need for an additional procedural hearing, we are entitled to have the court reconsider its decision after hearing our case presented in person, and we have instructed our lawyers to take this step on our behalf.
Having spoken with our legal team at length, we remain confident that after this hearing the court will recognise that we have serious legal concerns that must be examined through a full judicial review hearing. Our specialist lawyers believe the Judge in question has simply made the wrong decision, but that this is understandable given the complicated nature of the legal issues at play.
Our lead lawyer, Cherie Booth QC, said: “The court will hear further arguments from both sides before making a final decision on whether our clients’ challenge to section 24 of the Finance (no. 2) Act 2015 should proceed. This is sensible and we are optimistic that permission will be granted once the further submissions have been made.”
Also, the initial refusal of permission does not mean that if we are successful in proceeding to a full hearing then we will ultimately lose the case. The time and resources available to judges to consider applications “on the papers” (i.e. before any hearing) at this early stage is severely limited by their heavy workload. It is generally felt that initial decisions on permission are increasingly made on the basis of a relatively cursory review of the arguments and it is far from uncommon for an additional hearing to be required. In some ways, there are parallels here with applications for property planning permission; where the planning department is not able to review the application in full within the prescribed eight week period, sometimes they will refuse the permission so that they can then consider the issues more fully during the longer appeals procedure.
At any rate, if we do get permission and proceed to a full judicial review hearing, that hearing will likely last for 2-3 days. The High Court’s substantive ruling, therefore, will be based on a very much more thorough examination by the court of the law and the facts than has been attempted so far.
We know from our lawyers that some judicial review claims are granted permission straight away but are ultimately lost, and that some are initially refused permission but the claimants go on to win. In fact, our legal team has worked on a case where this same Judge initially refused permission but the case was ultimately won.
We believe that the refusal of permission does not reflect the strength of our application, and we look forward to going to court to make our case. The court has a summer holiday throughout August and September, so we do not expect our permission hearing to take place before October.
So where does this news leave us in the interim period between now and October? Here are the most relevant points…
- Legal fundraising.
We have raised enough funds to date to cover all legal costs incurred, as well as all estimated costs needed to cover us through the permission hearing, including the estimate for adverse costs. If, as we hope and expect, permission is granted after the hearing, we will launch a subsequent crowdfunding campaign so we can prepare the best case for the judicial review.
- Cost benefits.
One of the advantages of a permission hearing is that some of the work done by our lawyers in preparing for this will save some time and costs for our full judicial review legal challenge, subject to permission being granted after the hearing.
- Thorough examination.
A permission hearing will be a great litmus test for our case. Our lawyers and the court will properly be able to consider the merits over several days and, if the result is positive, this means a judge has had time to consider the full facts and has given permission for our judicial review to be properly heard in court. However, in the unlikely event that we are refused permission after the hearing, then we can safely assume that the court does not feel there is merit in our case. Whilst we don’t want or expect a negative result from the permission hearing, if we do get one, the benefit is that we will know that the only route left open to us is lobbying via the media and political channels and can focus 100% of our efforts in that direction.
In summary, whilst on the one hand we are all disappointed with the need to have a permission hearing, we can only play the hand we are dealt and we need to stay positive and keeping fighting on all fronts.
Axe the Tenant Tax coalition and communications campaign
We continue to keep in close contact with the RLA, NLA, other landlord organisations and our supporters and sponsors. We fully support and endorse all activities being carried out by these organisations and their respective calls to action. As we have said before and the Summit highlights video confirms, it is vital that we continue to raise awareness, lobby government and get as many articles in the media as we can.
This is why it’s now more important than ever to switch our focus over the next few months to raising funds for the communications campaign.
And with a new leadership team at the helm of the Conservative party, we need to keep our campaign at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
With the funding needed for a communications campaign we aim to…
- Create a short animated ‘explainer video’ that very simply and powerfully explains what Section 24 is, how it will seriously increase the tax that hundreds of thousands of landlords have to pay and how damaging it will be to landlords, tenants and the housing market. We need this to make it very easy for other landlords and stakeholders to understand what Section 24 is and how it will affect them. More awareness leads to more support and more positive action. - Produce further campaign material that can be used to communicate with other landlords, letting agents and tenants. - Distribute the above assets far and wide and ensure that they are seen by as many politicians and landlords as possible.- Run a live-webinar with the aim of having at least 1,000 stakeholders attending and to enable this to be shared far and wide afterwards.- Play a leading role in a very high profile event in London on 7th and 8th October and have a range of seminars and speakers there. More than 5,000 landlords and others from the sector will attend.- Lobby relevant politicians and strongly make the case that the Tenant Tax is a failed experiment in Ireland that led to massive rises in rents over a three year period.- Work on many other aspects of the Ten Point Plan outlined via the link below.
A highly effective campaign is ready and waiting to go live but can only happen with your financial support. We believe this campaign to be critical alongside the legal campaign as it will also have a major benefit of raising additional funds for the legal case further down the road. Find out more here:
We will conclude this update with a quote:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Let’s continue to ‘Stand together. Be inspired. Make a difference.’
How refreshing! CityAM have published an article titled: UK rental prices: Why landlords aren't to blame for the housing crisisExcerpt:It’s easy to hold landlords responsible for all our ills when they're the recipients of our rent payments, but it feels like one almighty stretch to suggest that they must shoulder the blame for locking tenants out of ownership or making exorbitant profits at our expense. It’s far more complex than that.
We are also dealing with a private rental system that fails to take into account the huge variation in quality among landlords. How about we seriously tackle the scourge of rogue landlords rather than hounding decent ones out of the market?
I’m not suggesting that landlords are special snowflakes who cannot take criticism and need the likes of me to defend them. My issue with landlord-bashing is I think it detracts from the real and pressing reasons why renting is so insecure in this country.
Increasing numbers of us are now forced to rent in a system that seems to actively militate against our best interests. Landlords often seem to personify the worst issues with the private rental sector but the inconvenient truth is we need landlords. We need them to be responsible, we need them to be accountable and we need them to be better regulated but right now we need them more than ever.