The Lib Dems vow to build more homes

Michael Lloyd

November 20, 2019

The Liberal Democrats plan to build more homes and launch a Help to Rent scheme for tenants in the private rented sector, the party’s manifesto has revealed.

The party plans to build at least 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensure that total housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year.

It promises that new houses will meet zero-carbon standards and it will devolve full control of Right to Buy to local councils.

The manifesto reads: “People are struggling to afford good homes in in the right location: house prices are too high and the possibility of owning a home seems remote for many people; the private rental market is expensive and insecure; and there are not enough homes for social rent to meet demand.

“We need to build 300,000 homes per year just to meet current demand, but are barely building half that amount.

“The Conservatives, looking back to the 1980s, have tried to solve the problem of unaffordable homes by extending Right to Buy, but that has only served to deplete stock and deepen the crisis in social housing.

“Liberal Democrats are looking to the future and will oversee a substantial building programme to ensure that everybody has a safe and secure home.”

The Lib Dems want to introduce a Help to Rent consisting of government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30.

Hemat Natha, director of Mortgage Advice Point, said: “It’s fantastic news, helping to provide renters with the deposit.

“And social renting is great, but the targets are ambitious. If the Lib Dems get into power these targets need to be put into practice and followed up.

“Cut the red tape and start building.”

The party wants to promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in and to improve protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, added: “We welcome the Liberal Democrats’ plans to support younger tenants in accessing rented housing with a deposit loan scheme.

“This is a policy we have long been calling for and believe it could considerably improve prospects for younger people.

“This is tempered by the party’s proposals for three year tenancies with rent increases linked to inflation.

“It is bizarre to be proposing this when the average length tenants have been in their properties is over four years and when private rents are increasing by less than inflation according to the Office for National Statistics.

“Proposals to end the Local Housing Allowance Cap as well as ending the hostile environment for immigration are welcome steps and reflect proposals put forward by the RLA in its own manifesto for the private rented sector.

“However, the party’s plans for a blanket licensing scheme for landlords needs further thought.

“The crooks will simply not come forward, leaving the good landlords to pick up the tab for what would be a costly waste of time.”

The Lib Dems vow to help those who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rental payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.

The party wants to allow local authorities to increase council tax by up to 500% where homes are being bought as second homes with a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents purchasing such properties.

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