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Liberal Democrat manifesto: UK housing policies revealed

The Liberal Democrat General Election manifesto has been published, promising more housebuilding, abolishing leasehold tenures and its own buyer support scheme.

Its main housing pledges include increasing building of new homes to 380,000 a year across the UK, including 150,000 social homes, through new garden cities and community-led development of cities and towns.

The document said the LibDems would abolish residential leaseholds and cap ground rents to a nominal fee, “so that everyone has control over their property.”

The political party would also immediately ban no-fault evictions, making three-year tenancies the default, and create a national register of licensed landlords.

It would also introduce a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.

The manifesto said: “Liberal Democrats know that a home is a necessity and the base on which people build their lives. So we will ensure that everyone can access housing that meets their needs.

“Yet, in Britain today, many people cannot afford to buy or rent a home of good quality where they live. Too many people live in housing so poor it damages their health.

“Government housebuilding targets are regularly missed and the shortage of affordable and social housing is at crisis point. Newly built homes are often energy inefficient and environmentally unfriendly. Too many new houses are built as leasehold and leaseholders still face large bills, not least because of the building safety scandal. Homelessness remains shamefully high. Local authorities’ powers to build the kind of homes needed in their areas are inadequate.”

Commenting on the document, Nathan Emerson, chief executive at Propertymark, said: “It is encouraging to see housebuilding targets being taken seriously within the first manifesto released, especially a realisation that more social homes are required so that people have access to a greater provision of housing. 

“Propertymark has always believed that ground rents should be capped, so it is good to see that similar proposals are being referenced in the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto. It will be interesting to see what mechanism they intend to use should they succeed in ending no-fault evictions.”

Michael Cook, chief executive of Leaders Romans Group, added: “While the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto aims for a fair deal across various sectors, it unfortunately falls short of addressing the housing crisis comprehensively.

“The solitary focus on renters’ rights, essentially a phoenix of the unpassed Renters (Reform) Bill with a twist of mandating three-year tenancies, misses a significant opportunity. More robust and diverse housing policies are crucial to genuinely tackle the pressing issues faced by millions in need of affordable and secure housing.” 

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