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New homes must be marketed to Britons first, say Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have set a building target of 300,000 new homes a year, have pledged to scrap housing association Right To Buy, and demand that new homes should be marketed to British buyers first before being sold to overseas investment buyers.

The party’s manifesto dedicates two of its 100 pages to housing, which is describes as being in an ‘emergency’ condition in Britain. 

Its policies include these promises:

- “give British buyers a fair chance by stopping developers advertising homes abroad before they have been advertised in the UK;”

- a “government commissioning programme” to build 300,000 homes a year and of these, 500,000 by the end of the five year parliament will be “affordable energy-efficient” units;

- 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 will be a new government-backed British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to provide long-term capital for major housebuilding projects;

- ending Right to Buy pilots that sell off housing association homes;

- lifting the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of housing associations so that they can build council and social housing;

- requiring local plans to take into account at least 15 years of future housing need "focusing on long-term development and community needs";

- allowing local authorities to “levy up to 200 per cent council tax on second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas.”

On the lettings side the party proposes a Rent to Own model where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years. It also endorses the Conservatives’ policy on banning lettings fees for tenants and calls for the capping of up-front deposits and increasing (but unspecified) standards in rented homes. 

It will also give tenants first refusal to buy the home they are renting from a landlord who decides to sell during the tenancy at the market rate according to an independent valuation. 

In line with most other political parties, the Lib Dems want to promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase. The party also urges “improved protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing and to allow access for tenants to the database of rogue landlords and property agents.”

You can see the full Liberal Democrat manifesto here.

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