General Election Update
With the General Election fast approaching on 12th December 2019, what do the manifestos of the 3 main political parties say about housing and particularly private rented housing?
The Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrat Parties have now all published their manifestos and we have reviewed the various ‘housing’ pledges and commitments.
Whilst not at the top of the political agenda, housing remains an important political issue. All 3 parties recognise that there is a current significant imbalance between the supply and demand for housing across the tenures; and all are looking to achieve a step change to increase the of supply of new housing.
- The Liberal Democrats are pledging 100,000 social homes per year.
- Labour is pledging 150,000 new homes a year of which at least 100,000 would be social rent.
- The Conservatives have a set annual target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, resulting in at least a million more homes, of all tenures, over the next Parliament.
The Private Rented Sector:
Describe the private rented sector as ‘…. expensive and insecure….’ and ‘…pledge to reform the sector…’, they aim to:
- 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.
- 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.
- Improve protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing.
- Legislate for longer term tenancies and limits on annual rent increases.
See that issues relating the quality and affordability of the growing private rented sector is an area requiring the need for what is described as ‘…..urgent action….’.
Their focus will be to protect private renters through the introduction of:
- rent controls, by capping them with inflation, and giving cities powers to cap rents further.
- open-ended tenancies to stop unfair, ‘no fault’ evictions and give renters the security they need to make their rented housing a home.
- new, binding minimum standards to make sure every property is up to scratch with new minimum standards, enforced through nationwide licensing and tougher sanctions for landlords who flout the rules. Under Labour's "private renters' charter", landlords would face an annual "property MOT", with fines of up to £100,000 or forced repayment of rent if their properties are found to be sub-standard.
- fund new renters’ unions in every part of the country – to allow renters to organise and defend their rights
- Immigration status checks get rid of the discriminatory rules that require landlords to check people’s or that allow them to exclude people on housing benefit
- New powers to local authorities to regulate short-term lets through companies such as Airbnb
Have the least number of pledges for reforms to the private rented sector.
Their focus is on:
- Developing a Better Deal for Renters, including abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and only requiring one ‘lifetime’ deposit which moves with the tenant.
- Creating a Fairer Rental Market: protecting tenants from revenge evictions and rogue landlords,
- Good landlords will have strengthened rights of possession.
- Leasehold Reforms, a commitment to continue with the reforms to leasehold including implementing a ban on the sale of new leasehold homes, restricting ground rents to a peppercorn, and providing necessary mechanisms of redress for tenants.
Reality Check on the proposals:
Aside from the headlines, for all 3 manifestos there is limited detail on the proposals and particularly the timescales that might be applied to introducing new legislation to enact the various pledges within the next Parliament, whatever the outcome of the vote on the 12th December.
Probably the issue that most concerns landlords and agents. The introduction of Rent Controls has been helpful for existing tenants in areas with particularly fast-rising rent, but it can be at the expense of new renters. In some places, it has also led to a shortage of supply. While the arguments for rent control are not overwhelming, it is possible that a well-designed policy combined with significant new homebuilding could be effective.
Links to the three main manifestos:
Note: This blog has been prepared on the basis of a non-party politically review of the manifestos and in the main the narrative used has been taken direct from the manifestos. It is not a detailed analysis of the proposals or the impacts on the sector, rather the aim is to give landlords a flavour of what the main parties are ‘offering’ to the electorate in relation to the private rented sector.