Housing minister has Brandon Lewis has thrown his weight behind the right of foreign investors to purchase buy to let properties, saying they play “an important part” in the British housing market.
In an interview in the Sunday Times, Lewis says he will do nothing to deter or stop overseas buy to let investors who - according to some critics - have contributed to high house prices in many locations, notably London, and sometimes leave their properties empty despite the apparent housing shortages in many areas.
“It’s easy to smash foreign investment but it plays quite an important part in delivering affordable housing for people” he claims, referring to developers’ obligations to fund some affordable housing in return for winning planning consent for high-end apartments.
Lewis also says that without international investment, most London residential development during the economic slowdown “would have just stopped.”
This appears to put him on a different course to London mayor and newly-elected MP Boris Johnson, who in the past has called for foreign investment buyers to pay 10 times the current rate of council tax if they leave their properties empty, and has also called on developers to “put Londoners first” when it comes to marketing new homes.
In the Sunday Times interview Lewis - who has planning as well as housing responsibilities - also announced that he will not enact policies that threaten to change the Green Belt.
“It’s not a question for me. Green Belt decisions are made by local authorities” he says.