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'Shambles' threat of Lib Dem housing manifesto for PRS

Thursday 18 May 2017

A leading organisation for landlords has warned of 'a shambles for private renting' if the Liberal Democrats are elected.

The party’s manifesto pledges mandatory licensing for private rented sector homes and allowing councils to levy up to 200 per cent council tax on second homes, which would include BTL properties and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) claims the proposals for the private rented sector could force some landlords, hit by last month's tax changes, out of the market.

RLA chairman Alan Ward said: “As we have seen in Wales, compulsory licensing schemes simply do not work.

“The Rent Smart Wales registration and licensing scheme is an absolute shambles, with ineffective enforcement, contradictory advice, and little consistency.  Landlords have been left in limbo.

“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 per cent 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.

“Another tax raid such as this could be the last straw for many, and force even more landlords out of the market altogether.”

The Liberal Democrats also plan to: 

Reverse housing benefit cuts for 18-21 year olds.

Raise Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in line with average rents in an area.

Scrap the ‘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 including providing long-term capital for major new settlements and helping attract finance for major housebuilding projects.

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 that they can build council and social housing.

Scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes.

Require local plans to take into account at least 15 years of future housing need.

Enable local authorities to:

Levy up to 200 per cent council tax on second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas.

Enforce housebuilding on unwanted public sector land.

Penalise excessive land-banking when builders with planning permission haven’t built after three years.

End the Right to Buy if they choose.

To help those struggling to raise a deposit for their own home they will;

Help people who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.

Ban lettings fees for tenants, capping upfront deposits and increasing minimum standards in rented homes.

Help young people into the rental market by establishing a new Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30.

Give tenants first refusal to buy the home they are renting from a landlord who decides to sell during the tenancy at the market rate according to an independent valuation.

Promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes.

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