In order to secure their share of the younger vote, the major parties have been looking looking to win support from millenials. One way they have gone about doing this is by promising to make renting easier and less expensive. This doesn’t sound like good news for landlords, especially not private landlords. Even the conservatives seem to have severed support. Worried? Here’s a brief round up of proposals from the main three parties.
Labour are looking to increase the councils power to purchase empty houses. Under these proposals, homes left empty for over six months could potentially be seized by councils. In addition to this, both Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor Sadiq Khan have called for tougher rent controls in London and other UK cities, with Labour backing calls for local rent caps. It has been proposed that rent rates be linked to income rates, which means that we could be seeing rent rates restricted to just one third of the average local income.
Then there’s the right to buy scheme. This would give private tenants the right to purchase the home that they rent at a discounted price from their landlord, and is an attempt to tackle what John Mc Donnell describes as the “burgeoning buy-to-let market” and the problem of landlords who do not maintain their properties. It seems to be a replication of the right to buy scheme formerly introduced by Thatcher’s Government, which allowed social housing tenants to buy their homes at a fraction of the market place.
The implications of these could be far reaching. The RLA for example has hit back at the right to buy scheme, suggesting that it could effectively kill off the private rented sector and result in a mass sell-off of properties in advance of the law being passed. David Smith, policy director for the RLA said: “To suggest that private landlords should be selling their properties to their tenants at a below market rate arbitrarily set by politicians is ludicrous. Landlords had to pay market rates themselves. It’s only right that, if and when they decide to sell it, they can do so at market rates”.
The Conservatives have called for new homes to adhere to a national design standard, and as such, have produced a new National Design guide. When revealing the guide, the party said “there is no accepted national standard for the development of homes, only vague documents with little enforceable power. This new design guide will introduce a national standard for local authorities to adhere to” and “replace the existing vague and outdated guidance with a brand-new national design guide.. produced with a more ambitious and firmer vision for better designed homes.”
Furthermore, the Conservatives plan to reform, speed up and simplify the planning system as it currently stands. Their plans for example will allow property owners to extend their houses without planning permission, meaning that certain property owners would be able to add two floors to their homes. These new rights will first be given to blocks of flats, before being extended to detached homes.
The guide places an emphasis on tree-lined streets and greener infastructures, in line with a wider environmental focus, – and local authorities will be responsible for designing their own guides, in allignment with national standards.
The guide seems to have been generally embraced by many in the profession, with Paul Finch (former CABE chair) describing it as “the nearest thing to a National Architecture Policy, we are going to get”.
The liberal Democrats are placing such a huge emphasis on revoking article 50 , that its difficult to pin point any advancements in housing policy. However, the party previously proposed a state-backed agency to compulsorily buy land for building, – and called for measures that would allow for construction on some green-belt sites.
They also called for a big expansion of rent-to-own, whereby renters in new developments would be able to gradually get a stake in the property they rent, without having to come up with the deposit. This would allow for tenants to buy their home for the same cost as renting.
An existing Liberal Democrat policy is to increase Local Housing Allowance in line with local rents. This is potentially great news for landlords who’s tenants are in receipt of benefits.
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