What the political parties offer renters: We read the manifestos so you don’t have to

Fancy spending a few hours wading through political jargon to find out what each of the parties are offering renters? No, we didn’t think so. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you – we’ve summarised what the main UK parties plan to do to fix the housing crisis and help millions of renters over the next five years.

Here’s our quick round up of what they’ve all said (and our verdict).

Tell us what you think – just tweet @SpareRoomUK. Don’t forget to watch our short Housing Election videos and tell us who (if anyone) gets your vote on housing policy.

The Conservative Party 

  • Build 200,000 new homes exclusively for first-time buyers under 40
  • Extend the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme to 2020 to help more people onto and up the housing ladder
  • Introduce a new Help to Buy ISA for people saving for a deposit

SpareRoom’s Verdict

“The Conservatives seem to have tunnel vision when it comes to home ownership and have ignored Britain’s 11 million renters in their manifesto. While we should support people who want to own their home, it’s wrong to completely ignore the private rented sector. Tenants are battling extortionate fees and rising rents and many may well end up renting for life.”

“Conservative housing policy focuses on helping a limited number of people to buy a property. Those who can’t buy are increasingly being helped to afford their rents via housing benefit. Both options require using taxpayers’ money and, if rents continue to rise faster than salaries, will place a massive burden on public finances.”

“Housing of all tenures needs to be available so people can choose what suits them at their time in life – affordable needs to mean genuinely affordable.”

Watch SpareRoom’s Housing Election interview with the Conservatives’ Bob Neill

The Liberal Democrats

  • Ban letting agent fees to tenants if the transparency requirements are not successful in bringing fees down to an affordable level by the end of 2016
  • Introduce Help to Rent tenancy deposit loans
  • Introduce Rent to Own homes where your monthly payments steadily buy you a stake in the property
  • Create a new multi-year tenancy with an agreed inflation-linked annual rent increase built in
  • Build 300,000 new homes every year 

SpareRoom’s Verdict

“When we interviewed Tim Farron from the Lib Dems he described letting agents’ fees as “immoral”, so it’s surprising the manifesto takes such a soft line on the prospect of banning them. But there are some well-considered pledges in there, such as tenancy deposit loans. It’s clear the Lib Dems understand that renters have urgent needs, and it’s not all about helping would-be first time buyers.”

Watch SpareRoom’s Housing Election interview with the Liberal Democrats’ Tim Farron

The Green Party

  • Raise the tax-free amount under the Rent A Room scheme to £7,250 per year
  • Introduce a ‘living rent’ tenancy, including five-year fixed tenancy agreements and smart rent control caps
  • Abolish letting agents’ fees and insurance-based deposit schemes
  • Introduce the Right To Rent, where local councils help those with difficulty paying their mortgager to rent
  • Scrap the Help To Buy scheme which does nothing to help those in the greatest housing need and contributes to excessive demand

SpareRoom’s Verdict

“The Greens are clearly trying to make housing genuinely affordable for buyers and renters alike, including a firm commitment to ban letting agents’ fees on tenants. Their plan to raise the Rent a Room Scheme tax-free allowance to £7,250 per year is a significant increase on the current £4,250, although still not enough to cover London’s lodger rents, which now average £8,280 per year. We’d like to see it increased to £7,500 a year, with further rises linked to inflation.

That said, the increase will go a long way to incentivise homeowners to rent out their spare rooms and the impact could be huge. There are millions of under-occupied households in the UK – if a small percentage were to let out a room it could substantially boost supply at a time when we’re struggling to build even half the new homes we need.”

Watch SpareRoom’s Housing Election interview with the Green Party’s Tom Chance 

The Labour Party

  • Make three-year tenancies the norm, with a ceiling on excessive rent rises
  • Ban unfair letting agent fees
  • Build at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020
  • Give first time buyers preference on new homes in areas of housing growth

SpareRoom’s Verdict 

“Labour make a clear commitment to banning unfair fees, although they’ve not said what they consider to be unfair. In fact, this is all quite vague. A national register of private landlords is all very well, but will it be optional and, if not, how will be it be policed? There’s also no mention of how to make better use of existing housing stock, which is a missed trick.”

Watch SpareRoom’s Housing Election interview with Labour’s Emma Reynolds

UKIP

  • Bring empty homes back into use
  • Release dormant land for building affordable developments
  • Tackle homelessness

Matt’s Verdict

“Given that UKIP’s housing spokesperson – Andrew Charalambous – has 24 years’ experience as a landlord and is clearly passionate about housing, it’s odd that there are absolutely no policies for renters in UKIP’s manifesto. It’s a shame UKIP hasn’t seized the opportunity to show they have a wide range of policies on the key issues, given that Mr Charalambous told us he’d like to ban letting agents’ fees and raise the Rent a Room Scheme tax threshold.”

Watch SpareRoom’s Housing Election interview with UKIP’s Andrew Charalambous

 

What do you think? You can tweet us your thoughts @SpareRoomUK or join in our Housing Election to tell us which party you think has the most to offer renters.

 

1 Comment on What the political parties offer renters: We read the manifestos so you don’t have to

  1. We need to see the ‘help to buy’ scheme, all housing benefit and zero interest rates as a blatant bung to housing capital. Without help to buy, zero interest rates and housing benefit the entire housing ponzi scheme would crash and we could all go back to saving up and buying. A new home costs almost nothing, high costs are all due to building regulation and vast capital bungs to the lucky landowners. This three pronged ponzi scheme serves to inflate property values and drive the wedge between the haves and have nots. The current shorthold tenancy was introduced as an emergency measure to open the market from a moribund state in the early 80s. The tenant’s rights are now far too few and insecure. Estate agents treat tenants like scum and landlords like their subject vassals. I would support help for landlords to avoid having to use this scumbag estate agent trade all together.

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