Gross mortgage lending rose by 10% in January compared to the same month last year. While mortgage lending at £10.5bn was down by 14% compared to December's total of £12.2bn, January was the sixth consecutive month of increase in year-on-year comparison. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), gross mortgage lending in 2011 was just over £140bn, which was a 4% increase compared to 2010. 2011 was also the first year to see an increase in lending since 2007.

The chief economist of CML asserted that the main reason for this rise in mortgage lending is the end of the stamp duty holiday period in March. As he said: “The increase in lending compared to January last year helps support our view that housing and mortgage market activity may be boosted by first-time buyers seeking to complete deals before stamp duty concession ends in March.” Stamp duty is normally payable at 1% on all property purchases between £125,000 and £...

HM Revenue and Customs have announced plans to crack down on offshore tax evasion and one of the first groups to be targeted will be wealthy individuals who are not paying capital gains tax on foreign property. The 200-strong team of investigators will be collecting data on landlords, holiday home owners and residential property owners who have bought or sold a property but failed to include this in their tax returns. It is planned that £560million will be collected in lost revenue by 2015.

The investigation team will be using advanced data mining techniques to identify those who own property abroad and are potentially evading tax. The team will be scrutinising advertisements and other publicly available information and use risk assessment tools to find those who do not seem to be able to legally afford their property or those who do not appear to be declaring the correct income from their second homes, such as buy-to-let properties and rental properties.


A proposed new EU Directive has recently been proposed on mortgages, aiming to deal with the problem of irresponsible lending. If successful, the new regulations could make the property market more stable without drastic booms and busts that were experienced in Ireland and Spain. On the other hand, landlords and estate agents claim that new regulations could be very damaging for the UK private rented market. Under the new regulations, lenders will not be able to use future rental income when assessing a landlord's eligibility for a mortgage for buy-to-let properties. The new directive is set to be discussed in the European Parliament in March 2012 and could become reality from 2013, if EU MPs vote in favour of it.
The new regulations can have a significant effect on the UK property market. Almost 90% of English landlords are private individuals and most buy-to-let (BLT) purchases are made on the basis that landlords will finance their mortgages from rental...

The Ministry of Justice published its response to recent proposals to criminalise squatting in a consultation paper entitled 'Options for dealing with squatting'. The Government has announced that it intends to make the illegal occupation of a residential property a criminal offence. Section 7 of the Criminal Law Acts 1977 already makes it a criminal offence if a squatter fails to leave a residential property when required to do so by a 'displaced residential occupier' or 'protected intending occupier'. This means that at present, only homeowners, who were made homeless by squatters moving in to their property are legally protected and squatters are allowed to enter an empty property if it is left unsecured. The new rules are bound to give more protection to landlords and owners of second homes.
Under the new regulations, a criminal...

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