Last week, hundreds of landlords and professionals operating in the Private Rented Sector joined forces to fight back against ludicrous buy-to-let tax legislation due to be phased in from April 2017.

More than 600 people attended the Tenant Tax Summit in London on Thursday, which aimed to raise awareness of and look to overturn Section 24 of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2015 through a legal process known as a Judicial Review.

To date, more than £150,000 has been raised through a crowdfunding platform to help axe the 'Tenant Tax' - new legislation introduced by George Osborne that will force the worst affected landlords to either sell their rental properties; thereby reducing the supply of rental properties and forcing tenants to find new homes; or increase their rents far more aggressively, making renting even more unaffordable.

Co-claimants in the legal case, Steve Bolton, Founder and Chairman of Platinum Property Partners, and fellow landlord Chris Cooper, hosted the event at the ILEC Conference Centre near Earls Court to increase awareness of the campaign and encourage positive and lasting action amongst the sector.

As Chris Cooper said in his opening presentation, some 90% of the estimated two million landlords in the UK aren't even aware of the impact of Section 24 and are 'sleepwalking into disaster'.

Steve Bolton told Property Industry Eye: "If landlords have to count their finance costs as income, it'll push a lot of landlords that don't realise it into the higher tax bracket…Taxing landlords into oblivion is not the solution to the housing crisis."

In addition to the organisers, the high-level speaker line-up also included Matt Hutchinson of SpareRoom, former Conservative MP, Lord Howard Flight, and world-class athlete Kriss Akabusi MBE.

Matt Hutchinson shared recently acquired data on rent increases in the UK and how 23% of tenants would need to move if their rents went up by just a further £25 a month. He said: "We can see that rents are going up and they are going to affect the people who are renting adversely. It is also very clear that the Government has no backup plan if its intention is to destroy the Private Rented Sector."

In an interview following his presentation, Lord Howard Flight told Property Tribes: "When it was announced last Autumn, I thought this is crackpot, it's outrageous, it's retrospective, it's going to reduce supply, it's picking on small landlords who are our natural supporters and giving the big ones an advantage."

He also added that most people in Westminster aren't even aware of it, which is why he is championing more lobbying and PR activity alongside the Judicial Review.

And Kriss Akabusi MBE, who describes himself as a landlord 'who loves my tenants', likened the campaign to his 4x400 metre relay race in which he won a gold medal in 1991. He ended the event by encouraging teamwork and positive thinking, quoting "In order to succeed, you must first be willing to fail."

Cherie Blair CBE QC, whose firm Omnia Strategy LLP are leading the legal challenge, also attended to show her support. An interview with Property Tribes' Vanessa Warwick can be seen here.

The event was funded entirely through sponsorship from Platinum Property Partners, Belvoir Lettings,Shawbrook Bank, Humber Landlords Association, the Residential Landlords Association, Vaboo and Bluechip Financial.

During the event itself, an additional £15,000 was raised, including a sizeable £10,000 donation from the National Landlords Association.

In his speech to the audience, many of whom were NLA members, Chief Executive, Richard Lambert said: "We have yet to see an argument which would convince us to change our minds about the Judicial Review's chances of success. But we have to recognise that there is always the possibility that we may be wrong.... So, in that spirit, as a goodwill gesture to the campaign in recognition of our shared aim of fighting for landlords, the NLA will donate £10,000 to the campaign fund. For all the humble pie I would have to eat, I for one would be quite happy to be proved wrong on this one."

A clear message from all speakers was that raising awareness amongst tenants and landlords is paramount to the campaign's success. And the landlords in attendance agreed. The co-claimants have therefore appointed Westbourne Communications to run a robust and fully integrated PR and political lobbying campaign.

As well as continuing to raise money for the Judicial Review they are also encouraging people to donate to the communications campaign.

For more information, and to make a donation to the campaign, please visit the links below:

Awareness campaign: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/36/axe-the-tenant-tax

Legal fund: https://www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/tenanttax/

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