Tories pledge to “re-balance “ the property market towards home ownership, helping more starters onto the housing market, while Labour plan a crack-down on private landlords.
No real surprises in the Conservative manifesto, very much a continuation of present policies, with few concessions for private landlords. The emphasis is on helping tenants feel more secure in their tenancies with the abolition of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions – a process that is already under way – and help-to-buy.
“We will encourage a new market in long-term fixed rate mortgages which slash the cost of deposits, opening up a secure path to home ownership for first-time buyers in all parts of the United Kingdom,” says the Conservative manifesto.
More homes will be offered to local families, “enabling councils to use developers’ contributions via the planning process to discount homes in perpetuity by a third for local people who cannot otherwise afford to buy in their area. Councils could use this to prioritise key workers in their area, like police, nurses and teachers.”
The Right to Buy will continue for all council tenants. “We will also maintain the voluntary Right to Buy scheme agreed with housing associations… And we have extended the Help to Buy scheme from 2021 to 2023 and will review new ways to support home ownership following its completion.”
Shared ownership will be reformed and simplified “setting a single standard for all housing associations, thereby ending the confusion and disparity between different schemes.
Leasehold reforms will be continued while “A Better Deal for Renters”, including abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and only requiring one ‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the tenant will be continued, to “create a fairer rental market: if you’re a tenant, you will be protected from revenge evictions and rogue landlords, and if you’re one of the many good landlords, we will strengthen your rights of possession.,” say the Conservatives.
Meanwhile Labour have pledged to “put bad landlords out of business”, to introduce open-ended (indefinite) tenancies, abolish no-fault evictions and cap rent rises for private tenants, to “put bad landlords out of business” and bring back rent controls in England for the first time in over 30 years. Council house building will be boosted under Labour, funding 100,000 new council houses a year by 2024.
Labour’s “private renters’ charter” would oblige all landlords to carry out an annual “property MOT”, similar to the vehicle safety checks of that name, with fines of up to £100,000 or rent clawbacks if their let properties are found to be unsafe and below standard.
Renters unions funded by the state would be encouraged, so as to balance tenant-landlord power in the market, and in areas of high rental demand where rents are high, councils would be given additional powers to control rent levels.
The Labour party claims that one-in-four private rented homes in England are classed as “non-decent”, with dampness, cold, forms of disrepair or are otherwise unsafe for occupation.
John Healey Labour’s Housing spokesman told the BBC, “these are standards that cannot be allowed to go on for longer, While most landlords provided decent and secure accommodation, he said successive governments had allowed ‘rogue landlords to flourish’, while tenants had fewer rights and protections than if they were hiring a car or household goods.”
“This is about making all properties and all landlords operate to the sort of standards that the better ones already do. When one in four kids are growing up in private rented accommodation, this is the type of home which must be better, more secure and more affordable,” Mr Healey said.
According to Norman Smith, The BBC’s assistant political editor, Labour’s policy reflected a view within Labour that the private sector “could not be trusted in many areas and the state had to step in”, a major dividing line with the Conservatives.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association comments:
On the Labour manifesto:
“While the NLA supports any policies that crack down on criminals operating in the private rented sector (PRS), the Labour manifesto is too extreme, as well as unrealistic and will be hugely damaging to housing supply in the UK.
“It begs so many questions: from rent-caps to open ended tenancies, how does Labour intend to make these policies work? How will Labour ensure landlords who are already compliant don’t take the full brunt of these changes? Will they give housing enforcement the priority and the resources it desperately needs? Does Labour intend to reform the courts so that if a landlord needs to end a tenancy, it can be done quickly and efficiently to?
“Currently, what Labour proposes will force landlords to be more selective about the tenants they take on and will drive many from the market altogether. We cannot stress enough that punishing law-abiding landlords who live and work in the PRS will be something the Labour party will come to regret.”
On the Conservative manifesto:
“The Conservatives claim that the changes announced in the manifesto will ‘create a fairer rental market’, but fairer for whom? To say that we are disappointed that the Conservatives have pledged to continue with their plan to abolish Section 21 is an understatement. Despite a robust lobbying campaign on behalf of the two million landlords in the UK, the Conservatives seem hell-bent on continuing to punish hard working and law-abiding landlords.
“We will reserve judgment on the so-called “lifetime deposit”. The Conservatives has yet to confirm what this will look like or how this will work in practice.
“The NLA cannot get behind a manifesto that so badly cripples landlords’ ability to run a functioning letting business.”