With a general election scheduled for 8th June, the political parties have been publishing their manifestos and they’ve all announced policies on housing which could have a big impact on the private rental sector.
In the third in a series of articles on the main parties’ election manifestos, we’ll take a look at what the Liberal Democrats are planning for the housing sector and how landlords and housing experts are responding to it.
What’s in the Manifesto?
The Lib Dem manifesto includes plans to:
. Reverse cuts to housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds.
. Increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in line with average rents in an area.
. Scrap the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ and incentivise local authorities to help tenants downsize.
. Directly build 300,000 homes a year through a government commissioning programme to build homes for sale and rent.
. Set up a new government backed British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank with a remit to provide long term capital for major new housing developments.
. End the Voluntary Right to Buy pilots that sell off housing association homes.
. Lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of housing associations so they can build council and social housing.
. End exemptions for smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes.
. Require local housing developments to plan for at least 15 years of projected housing need.
. Give local authorities powers to levy up to 200% council tax on second homes, enforce housebuilding on unused public sector land and penalise excessive land banking.
. Introduce a new Rent to Buy system where tenants take an increasing stake in a property, owning it outright after 30 years.
. Ban letting agent’s fees and cap upfront deposits.
. Introduce longer tenancies of three years or more and link rent rises to inflation.
How has the manifesto been received?
Alan Ward, chairman of the Rental Landlords Association, said the Lib Dem housing plans would simply not work. He pointed to the Rent Smart licensing scheme for landlords in Wales, which he said had left landlords in limbo.
Mr Ward said; “As we have said time and time again the PRS needs effective enforcement, not more regulation. Mandatory licensing would merely punish good landlords who would be hit with hefty licence fees, while the criminals continue to operate under the radar.
“As for the 200% levy on council tax for second homes, to treat homes to rent the same as properties deliberately left empty, or occupied only a few weeks of the year as holiday homes is just wrong. It is yet another way of attacking landlords, the very people who are providing valuable homes to rent at a time of housing crisis.”
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said that his party’s plans would give young people hope they could one day own their own home.
He said; “This is about allowing people to get their foot on the ladder, to begin to pay rent and to lead that to staircase up to being able to own a property, part own it, and give people that chance to become a home owner should they wish.”