Is it time to change negative gearing?

By Jack Needham

Axing negative gearing will have broader consequences for the property market, but many investors have indicated their willingness to accept alterations to the policy.

The removal of negative gearing might push rental prices up and drive investors out of the market, according to responses to Smart Property Investment’s Facebook question this week.

We asked what abolishing the long-held government policy would mean for property investment, following a report from Deloitte earlier this week that indicated the removal of negative gearing wouldn't have an impact on rental prices.

The Loan Lady believes that axing negative gearing will have the most impact on young investors, with seasoned property buyers unlikely to be deterred by any change.

“I have a range of clients including first-time property buyers and serious, experienced property portfolio investors. I think the elimination of negative gearing will make it harder for a young property investor to invest in property,” she commented.

Warwick Jacques stated that removing the policy would create widespread issues for affordable housing supply.

“No amount of tinkering with the tax regime on investment properties will be of any benefit to the people renting homes because the numbers of properties available for rent will drop, causing rents to rise. This will also put pressure on government and local authority housing, therefore it would be best left alone,” he commented.

Mike Hosking cited the previous removal of the policy for a short period during the 1980s as precedent for the damage such a move could inflict.

“I don't know whether I'm the last of the dinosaurs, but I was around when the Labor government tried to do away with negative gearing in 1985. They had to reintroduce it less than two years later; the only people hurt by its abolition were the very people it was meant to help. Investors withdrew from the market, resulting in fewer rental properties available; rents skyrocketed,” he commented. 

But not all investors were as vehement in their defence of the policy.

Facebook user Ultan Mooney is in favour of the government restricting the policy to new dwellings to increase housing supply.

“It's exactly what they should do – just like APRA was way behind the eight-ball about I/O lending, and the RBA was way behind the eight-ball in enforcing responsible lending, our lawmakers are also way behind on negative gearing policy. Negative gearing is used by far too many people to subsidise existing supply – failing to create enough new supply. Negative gearing should not be removed, but the policy should be adjusted so that it delivers the policy outcomes it was always meant to deliver – creating new rental supply in sufficient numbers,” he commented.

Altering the application of negative gearing policy is a sentiment other investors agreed with.

“We should have negative gearing for the first five years of ownership. Allow owner time to get it to a positive situation. An easier solution is to cap lending at 80 per cent LVR on investment property, as over time it would become positively geared,” David McGuiggan commented.

“A better solution is to allow negative gearing on your primary place of residence. That would make it easier for people to get into their own home, and then treat investment property as it should be treated, as a free market business,” Jody Wall wrote.

To see the full conversation on negative gearing, click here. 

Read more: 

Price growth to decline by up to 15% 

Higher or lower - can you guess the price? 

Lending crackdown increasing investor risk 

Buyers respond to new challenges 

Has the economic downturn in WA been overplayed? 


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