TAX relief for buy-to-let investors should be "scrapped" or "seriously curtailed", according to a Labour councillor.

Investors can claim tax relief against interest on buy-to-let mortgages - something withdrawn from conventional home-buyers in 2000.

This has led to claims that buy-to-let landlords have a huge advantage over first-time buyers.

Now Coun David Horton is calling for a U-turn by his own Government which introduced the policy.

Coun Horton, shadow executive councillor for housing, said: "If you can afford to buy a second property as a buy-to-let or to use as a second home, you should not get tax relief on it.

"York people, especially first-time buyers, are struggling to get their foot on the housing ladder.

"I don't see why investors with lots of cash should get tax breaks over normal people on low incomes struggling to get their first home."

Mr Horton said he was hoping to put pressure on the national Government to change its policy through York council's housing group.

The Press recently reported the buy-to-let market in York had seen a massive boom and that first-time buyers were being squeezed from the market Geoff Stericker is a partner in The Buy And Let Property Shop, in Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma Gate, York.

Mr Stericker said the buy-to-lets had now virtually taken over the first-time buyer market because people were looking to rent rather than buy.

He estimated that, in York, buy-to-lets represented about 50 per cent of the first-time buyer market.

Joan Sinclair, of Rawcliffe, York said: "It is a terrible shame first-time buyers are being priced out of the market.

"It just does not seem fair that buy-to-let investors should get tax relief when first-time buyers don't.

"Either they should both be given tax relief or it should be scrapped for buy-to-let investors."

Ben Hudson, a partner with Hudson Moody, York, said: "It would be marvellous to have tax relief for first-time buyers as well as for buy-to-let investors.

"It was a Government decision to scrap it and, unfortunately, the Government would lose a lot of revenue if they did so. If tax relief for buy-to-let investors was removed it would mean there would be a lot less properties on the market.

"Having tax relief has meant there are a lot more rental properties on the market, especially in the commercial sector.

"These properties are in much better condition than the dingy bed sits that used to be available in earlier years."