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​What are the parties pledging for landlords?

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Following a turbulent period for the private rental market, a general election has been called, sparking questions about the approaches each political party will take to the sector. 

Although Brexit is likely to dominate the debate, the housing crisis in the UK cannot be ignored, and landlords are understandably anxious for clarification on the policies that will affect their livelihoods. 

The parties have a clear deadline to set out their policies on tax, the deregulation of greenbelt land for development and regulation of the private rental market. 

Election manifestos are yet to be released though hints can be taken from speeches and pledges made this far and past policies.

So what can we expect from each party?

Conservatives

The recent Housing Market White Paper laid out the Conservative Party’s plans for the Housing market. 

•    The national planning framework is being adapted to encourage local authorities to plan proactively for Build to Rent (B2R) schemes, and attracting institutional investment for the schemes.

•    Banning letting agent fees.

•    Promised to bring into force the plans to improve standards in the PRS under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

•    Promoting family friendly 3-year tenancies, restricted to private rented homes delivered by housing associations and institutional investors, not BTL landlords

•    Make it easier for B2R developers to offer affordable private rental homes instead of other types of affordable housing.

•    Giving local authorities the tools to speed up house building as well as powers to penalise developers who fail to deliver on time. 

•    Demanding councils hold a register of brownfield land that developers can access.

•    Councils must now intervene earlier to prevent households from becoming homeless after the Homelessness Reduction Bill passed into law.

•    The Affordable Homes Programme has been relaxed to include affordable rent and build-to-rent. Previously it was largely focused on homeownership products.

•    A commitment under David Cameron to cut housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds on Universal Credit has been honoured with as many as 29,000 people potentially affected.

•    A commitment has been made to build one million homes by December 2020.

Labour

Jeremy Corbyn has said that ‘private rents are soaring and insecure tenancies are a significant cause of homelessness as people become more vulnerable to rip-off landlords in an unregulated market’.

• Pledged to build one million homes over the life of a parliament, with 500,000 council homes built by councils.

• Claim removing borrowing caps would fund 12,000 a year, but has not provided any costing for the rest.

• Indefinite suspension of the Right to Buy scheme while ‘at a time of shortage’ of social housing.

• To end rough sleeping through a voluntary deal with housing associations to provide 4,000 properties for the street homeless in a ‘clearing house’ scheme.

• Promised to tackle soaring rents in the private rental sector through regulation, and says it will:

- Offer more protections for “generation rent” by ensuring secure tenancies;
- Outlaw letting agents administration charges;
- Prevent unreasonable rent increases during tenancy and in between contracts;
- Strengthen tenants rights to protect them from unfair evictions;
- Ensure that privately rented properties are subject to a national standard to hold landlords to account over poor or unsafe living conditions;
- Bring decent standards to the private rented sector, including ensuring homes are properly insulated.

Liberal Democrats

•    Ban lettings agent fees for tenants.

•    Stronger measures to tackle rogue landlords.

•    Committed to building 300,000 new homes a year by 2020.

•    Create a ‘housing investment bank’ to channel investment into the housing sector.

•    Develop policies to help housing associations and councils to build more homes through better access to finance and at least 10 new garden cities.

Green Party

The Green Party acknowledges that the private rented sector plays a role in meeting housing needs, but says the sector is failing to provide secure, affordable and high standard homes.

•    Calling for Assured Shorthold Tenancies to be replaced with a new Stable Rental Tenancy, prioritising the property as the tenant’s home first, and the landlord’s asset second.

•    Wants to abolish section 21 powers, so good tenants choose whether they wish to remain in the property, and the landlord may only end the tenancy in order to sell the property.

•    Believes rents should be controlled and account for no more than 35 per cent of the local median take-home pay. 

•    Private Residential Tenancy Boards, established by local authorities, would be set up to provide an informal, cheap and speedy forum to settle disputes.

•    Bring lettings agents under the definition of an estate agency and give the Office of Fair Trading the ability to ban agents who act improperly.

•    Ban lettings agents charging potential and current tenants any fees.

•    Introduce measures to ensure that black and minority ethnic people were not discriminated against, nor those in receipt of housing benefit.

•    Simplify and toughen up the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), and introduce a national landlord licensing scheme, operated by local authorities.

•    Scrap requirements for landlords to check the immigration status of tenants.

•    Develop a “Tenants' Movement” to give tenants a voice at a local and national level.

UKIP

•    Create new homes by bringing empty homes back into use, by making it a statutory duty of councils to tackle empty properties in their broader housing and planning strategies.

•    Wants to remove barriers to brownfield builds  in order to create one million homes on brownfield sites by 2025 and is offering grants of up to £10,000 per unit for remediation work.

•    On affordable housing, it says it wants to identify long-term dormant land held by central and local government so it can be released for affordable developments, and “relax planning regulations for the conversion of off-high-road commercial and office space and other existing buildings to affordable residential use”.

SNP

•    Has pledged to deliver 50,000 affordable homes by 2021, with 35,000 of these social rented homes.

•    It has condemned the UK government’s welfare reforms and has promised to mitigate the effect of the housing benefit cut for 18 to 21-year-olds.

•    Called for an immediate halt to Universal Credit until delivery problems are rectified.

•    Abolish the bedroom tax under new powers transferred from the UK government, but the UK government has not agreed to this.

•    The SNP’s current manifesto says it will take further action against rogue landlords who exploit tenants.

•    Consult on a national standard for private rented homes to ensure a good basic standard of accommodation.

•    Encourage councils to use the landlord registration system to inform landlords of their responsibilities, ensure legislation is being adhered to and action taken if it is not.

•    Encourage tenants to know their rights under current legislation on housing standards, repairing standards and the new tenancies legislation.

DUP

•    Wants to build 8,000 social and affordable housing units by 2020; set up a £1bn Northern Ireland Investment Fund to help finance projects such as social housing; transform the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to a strategic housing body and transfer its stock, giving it more powers to tackle empty homes.

SINN FEIN

•    Says it will build a minimum of 10,000 new social and affordable homes over the next five years, develop and implement an anti-poverty strategy, based on objective need, as well as providing £500m to help mitigate against welfare cuts.

SDLP

•    Wants to build 3,000 social homes every year, demand social landlords promote and develop ‘shared housing’ (mixed community social housing schemes), set up a new Green Investment Deal to renovate housing, and a new homelessness strategy, to help those who are homeless and protect those at risk of homelessness.

UUP

•    Wants to build 10,000 new social and affordable homes by 2021, transfer properties from the NIHE to housing associations and allow it to borrow against its assets to access private finance, as well as making the prevention of homelessness a statutory duty for services such as the NHS and prisons.


PLAID CYMRU

•    Previously pledged rent controls to help tenants, ensure the impact on Welsh language of new developments is measured thoroughly, and bring in energy efficient housing improvements to reduce family energy costs.

•    Wants local authorities to build more affordable and social housing with agreed targets and abolish VAT charges on house refurbishments. 

•    Already promised to set up a National Housing Company which will borrow against rents to build a new generation of public rental housing. 

•    Already ended the Right to Buy in Wales, and wants to reform the allocation of social housing by prioritising those in local housing need. 

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