Giving house keys

Many have predicted that the subject of ‘housing’ will take centre stage at the upcoming election. But what are some of the topics on the agenda for 7 May 2015? Let’s take a peek at some of the housing policies advocated by the main parties:

Conservatives 

  • Extend the Equity Loan part of Help to Buy until 2020 in relation to new-build homes
  • Introduce a Help to Buy ISA to help first-time buyers boost their deposit funds by 25% (up to a maximum Government contribution of £3,000)
  • Introduce a ‘Starter Homes’ scheme allowing first-time buyers under the age of 40 to purchase homes at 20 per cent below the market rate (this must be repaid if the home is sold within five years)
  • Release ‘brownfield’ land for private house building with the intention of building 275,000 new homes in the next five years. 

Labour 

  • Build 200,000 homes a year by 2020. The party intends to achieve this by (1) giving local authorities powers to penalise developers who hoard land rather than build on it, (2) creating new garden cities, and (3) freeing up planning regulations for local authorities
  • Introduce a Help to Buy ISA policy (see above), but extend it into a scheme to build more homes
  • Tackle empty homes by giving local authorities more power to charge higher rates of council tax on empty properties
  • Improve the private rental market by capping rent increases, introducing longer tenancy agreements for better stability (3 year tenancy agreements as opposed to 6 or 12 months that are currently used), and scrapping letting fees
  • Introduce a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million
  • End the bedroom tax introduced by the Conservatives.

Liberal Democrats 

  • Build 300,000 homes a year (1) by giving £10 billion to help builders borrow and (2) by creating 10 new garden cities in counties such as Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire
  • Create 30,000 ‘Rent to Own’ homes a year by 2020. The scheme will provide mortgage assistance to first time buyers by allowing them to build up a share in their home through monthly payments equivalent to rent until they own the property outright after 30 years, just like a normal mortgage
  • Bring 70,000 empty homes back into use
  • Create 190,000 more affordable homes
  • Introduce a mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million
  • Introduce legislation to ban landlords from letting out poorly insulated homes.

UKIP wants to protect the greenbelt by making it easier to build on previously developed land and aims to create a Brownfield Agency to provide grants, loans and tax breaks.

The Green Party appears to be focused more on the rental market as it plans to build 500,000 social rental homes by 2020 and, like Labour, it also wants to cap rent and introduce longer tenancies.

In summary, there are a lot of similarities: all parties clearly want to help Britain build more homes and help first-time buyers enter the market. It appears, however, that Labour and the Liberal Democrats are targeting the rental market more than the Conservatives.

Clearly, the possibility of the mansion tax looming around the corner has led to a slow-down in the high value property market: buyers are being sensible and seeing what the election will bring before committing to buying.

We do not have long to wait until we know for certain which of the above policies will be put into practice. Until 7 May , watch this space…

This post was edited by Louise Baker. For more information, email blogs@gateleyuk.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × 1 =

This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.