Well, it is and it isn’t — at the end of the day, encouraging private sector investors to put their savings into rental housing rather than securities has been a goal of public policy for the last twenty years, and if they hadn’t done it, someone would have had to pay a lot of tax to build or buy the equivalent number of council houses. So, I don’t think it’s an intrinsically evil thing to do, any more than living off any other kind of savings. That’s not to say that btl landlords deserve any special protection from ideas which are otherwise good public policy, but this one isn’t — if it were screwing the landlords to save public money or to benefit tenants (say as part of an overall reform of tenancy law and/or rent controls), I wouldn’t mind, but in fact it is also likely to end up not only screwing the tenants, but wasting a hell of a lot of money on Travelodges and the like.
In fact, thinking about it, the response of the real tough-guys of property investment will be to convert their buy-to-lets into bed and breakfast accomodation and hire it out to councils which are dealing with the consequences of having 200,000 families turned into emergency cases.
(I’ve just realised that my financial disclosure in the original piece is a bit misleading — I do have buy to let properties, but they are very much at the other end of the pricing scale from HB tenants).