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GE2019 - How do the manifestos match?

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Before the political parties finalised their manifestoes for the General Election on 12 December, Propertymark published its own ‘manifesto’ calling on the new Government to regulate and reform the housing sector. How do the major parties’ manifestoes meet Propertymark’s calls on the issues the property industry faces?

Manifesto match-up


Regulation of property agents - Propertymark has called on the new Government to commit to regulating property agents and take forward the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) Working Group.


An open database for rogue landlords and property agents - opening the existing Database for Rogue Landlords and Property Agents, currently only available to local authorities, would mean access for tenants, agents, and regulatory bodies alike. 


Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats mention regulatory enforcement for mandatory nationwide licensing, though this mainly focuses on lettings agents. The Labour manifesto mentions the introduction of new minimum standards, enforced through nationwide licensing and tougher sanctions for landlords who break the licensing rules. 

Abolish the 3 per cent surcharge on additional residential property - to boost the supply of rented housing the Government should remove the 3 per cent surcharge on additional homes.  


None of the major parties has met this challenge, and none have chosen policies that increase rental stock, however, the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats have a plan for local authorities to increase council tax by up to 500 per cent where homes are being bought as second homes and, like Labour, to introduce a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents or companies purchasing such properties. 


Introduce Property MOTs - an annual ‘MOT’ of rental properties should replace the expensive existing discretionary licensing schemes, improve enforcement, and give landlords a steer on how to maintain or improve conditions for tenants.  


Labour would introduce a new national ‘property MOT’. This would introduce a legal requirement for landlords to complete an independent annual inspection to ensure homes are up to scratch, with tough fines and forced repayment of rent to tenants if landlords let out sub-standard properties or flout the rules. This was pledged after the publication of their manifesto.


Introduce a digital logbook for every property bought and sold - to cut down the number of failed property transactions and speed up the process of property buying and selling, the Government should introduce a digital property logbook. 


No parties addressed this issue directly.


Exempt downsizers from stamp duty or give them incentives to encourage them to move


The Liberal Democrats mention a wish to introduce positive incentives for people to downsize. Stamp duty is only mentioned in the context of increasing it for non-UK resident buyers (Conservatives) and Graduating Stamp Duty Land Tax by the energy rating of the property and reducing VAT on home insulation (Liberal Democrats).


Court system reform – no ban on Section 21; introducing a dedicated Housing Court for England and Wales. 


 Both Labour and the Conservatives have pledged to abolish ‘no-fault’ evictions.


Legislate to ensure developers remedy leasehold agreements containing onerous clauses - to support those who have been impacted by onerous clauses in a leasehold agreement, the next Government should legislate to ensure that developers find a remedy for those affected.


Both the Conservatives and Labour have addressed issues surrounding leasehold. Conservatives pledge to continue with reforms to leasehold such as implementing a ban on the sale of new leasehold homes, restricting ground rents to a peppercorn, and providing necessary mechanisms of redress for tenants. Labour pledges to end the sale of new leasehold properties, abolish unfair fees and conditions, and give leaseholders the right to buy their freehold at a price they can afford. Additionally, they pledge to introduce equivalent rights for freeholders on privately owned estates


End the Local Housing Allowance cap and improve how Universal Credit operates - the cap must be lifted to accurately reflect the cost of renting. Tenants should have a choice over whether the housing element of their Universal Credit is paid directly to their landlord. The new administration should also introduce the option for tenants to be paid their Universal Credit twice monthly to assist with budgeting.


The Labour manifesto pledges to scrap Universal Credit entirely, with an emergency package of reforms while a replacement system is developed including introducing fortnightly payments and paying the housing element directly to landlords. We will stop housing costs running away from benefits by scrapping the bedroom tax and increasing the Local Housing Allowance.

The Liberal Democrats pledge to reduce the wait for the first payment from five weeks to five days; increase Local Housing Allowance in line with average rents in an area; and abolish the bedroom tax.


Review of landlord taxes - the next Government must launch a review of all taxes relating to private landlords. Investment is falling because of the phasing out of tax relief on mortgage interest for landlords.


No parties have addressed this directly.


Introduce new regulations for short term lets - new regulations must be introduced for short term lets such as Airbnb.


Labour pledges to give councils new powers to regulate short-term lets through companies such as Airbnb.


Help the Private Rented Sector with energy efficiency and climate change – the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) should be reintroduced and extended to include anything contained within the Recommendations Report of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).


This is not directly addressed, but the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party have several renewable energy measures for both homeowners and the private rented sector, including a Liberal Democrat pledge to increase of minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties and remove the cost cap on improvements Labour, plan to cut energy bills by introducing a tough new zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes, and upgrading millions of existing homes to make them more energy-efficient.


Extend Flood Re to the leasehold sector and Private Rented Sector - the Flood Re obligation currently excludes the Private Rented Sector (PRS) and the leasehold sector. Therefore, an estimated seven million homes remain excluded from the Flood Reinsurance obligation, including 1.1 million leasehold homes and three million homes in urban areas.


The Labour manifesto pledges to provide an extra £5.6 billion in funding to improve the standard of flood defences and respond to the increased risk of flooding.

Read the Propertymark 'manifesto'