The Liberal Democrats want a raft of additional controls on the private rented sector aimed at addressing what it describes as the “emergency” condition of the UK housing market.
Like Labour, it backs the Conservatives’ proposed ban on letting agents’ fees levied on tenants in England.
But in addition it calls for:
- tenants to have first refusal to buy the home they are renting from a landlord who decides to sell during the tenancy at the market rate determined by an independent valuation;
- longer tenancies of three years or more with inflation-linked annual rent increases built in “to give tenants security and limit rent hikes;”
- improved protection against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing and allow access for tenants to the database of rogue landlords and letting agents;
- introducing a Rent To Own model where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years - although no details of how this would work are contained in the manifesto;
- banning lettings fees for tenants plus “capping upfront deposits and increasing minimum standards in rented homes”;
- helping 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 tenants under 30.
On wider housing issues, the party’s manifesto proposes a ban on new homes being advertised overseas before they are marketed to Britons, plus a “government commissioning programme” to build 300,000 homes a year. There would also be at least 10 new garden cities in England containing “high-quality, zero-carbon homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport”.
There would be an end to some housing association Right To Buy pilot schemes and councils would be able to “levy up to 200 per cent council tax on second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas.”
You can read the full Lib Dem manifesto here.