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Housing

Major building society says it will stop offering mortgages on second homes

Leeds Building Society says it will no longer lend on second homes because they “reduce the number of properties available to live in”.

A mortgage lender has vowed to stop lending money on second homes after warning they are damaging housing supply and leading to sky-high prices.

Leeds Building Society (LBS) has announced it will not offer new lending on additional residential properties which are not let out, and will instead focus on first-time buyers.

The move is the latest in a series of actions taken against second homes and holiday lets as the UK experiences record rents and house prices with a shortage of affordable homes in the face of high demand.

Richard Fearon, LBS chief executive, said the building society must take a responsible approach to lending and members’ financial resilience in the face of inflation.

“Having reaffirmed our purpose and looked at how we deliver on this, we’ve taken the decision to withdraw from lending on second homes,” said Fearon.

“Second homes reduce the number of properties available to live in and we want to direct more of our efforts to other sectors, especially first-time buyers.

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“Serving our members and supporting their communities remains at the heart of our business, as demonstrated daily by the commitment, drive and expertise of our fantastic people throughout what has been another extremely demanding period.”

Chris Bailey, national campaign manager for Action on Empty Homes, welcomed LBS’ move.

“If housing isn’t in residential use, it’s a travesty to refer to it as a ‘home’ at all. Second homes and short-lets, or whole-home Airbnbs, don’t house anyone at all, so they are no longer homes,” said Bailey.

“It is time to give priority in building and lending to those in need of homes to live in, not to those with the deepest pockets, who see housing as just another investment opportunity.

“These so-called ‘property investors’ literally take homes away from those who need to live in them and raise prices and rents of the remaining residential stock as a result.”

Daniel Wilson Craw, deputy director at Generation Rent, also said LBS’ stance was a good step to tackle affordability but added: “If their concern is home ownership specifically, they should stop lending to landlords too.”

There have been moves in recent weeks to crackdown on the number of second homes and holiday homes flooding the housing market.

The Welsh government announced planning and tax changes at the start of July while local councillors in Brighton have drawn up plans to become the first city in the UK to ban second homes.

Multiple home ownership was one of the factors identified by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation last week as a driving force behind the lack of affordable housing.

The anti-poverty charity found the number of adults owning multiple properties had surged 147 per cent since 2000 while the number of 16 to 34 year-olds entering home-ownership plunged by 38 per cent.

JRF called for regulations that govern mortgage lending to be reviewed to prioritise lending towards first-time buyers over landlords – a move LBS has preempted.

The goal, Darren Baxter, JRF senior policy advisor, said, was to redistribute the housing market in the UK, reducing the size of the private rented sector and opening doors to home ownership and social housing.

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“Right to Buy and the expansion of the private rented sector following the global financial crisis have already shown that rapid shifts in the distribution of homes are possible,” Baxter added.

“Reforming the private rented sector by shifting the distribution of homes within it should be the gateway to further, fundamental reform of the housing market. Reforms of this type would ensure the housing market supports those looking for somewhere to call home over those seeking assets to invest in.”

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