What do the party manifestos mean for renters?

The renting crisis has become a travesty, as we all know. Rent prices are outpacing wages, and many of us still live in poor-quality homes. All the while, the threat of eviction continues to loom over our heads.
The major political parties have released their election manifestos and we’ve been looking closely at each to see how they plan to solve the rental crisis.

In this article, we will explain what these parties are offering, how this compares with what we’ve called for and what details are missing:

The Liberal Democrats:

The Liberal Democrat manifesto was described by their party leader, Sir Ed Davey, as containing a “fair deal for renters”. This deal includes:

Immediately banning no-fault evictions

In their manifesto, a “fair deal for renters” involves banning Section 21. This will put an end to tenants facing eviction through no fault of their own.

A commitment to ‘immediately’ banning no-fault evictions is a good first step, however, it must be paired with open-ended tenancies, as opposed to the three years offered to provide us with both security and flexibility.

Making three-year tenancies the default

Tenants will welcome any attention brought to the length of tenancy agreements. When we move into a new home, we’re only protected for 6 months, before a landlord kicks us out. This stops us from being able to keep jobs, put down roots in our communities, and live fulfilling lives.

However, the pledge to make three-year tenancies the default is confusing. We’re not sure if that means that tenants could move home within the three years if their circumstances change, or if landlords would need a reason to evict at the end of the three-year period. 

A National Register of Licensed Landlords

Generation Rent have long advocated fora national register for landlords; after all, England is the only UK nation without one. However, by specifying ‘licensed’ landlords, it’s not clear whether the party would require all landlords to be licensed or if this would only apply to the 7% of landlords that we estimate currently are.

Rent to own

This would be a new model “for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years”. This exists already in small schemes – we don’t know how many people the Lib Dems hope would benefit from this policy.

Housebuilding target: 380,000 homes per year, including 150,000 social homes

Energy efficiency: require private rented homes to meet EPC C or above by 2028 Right to buy: councils would have powers to end Right to Buy locally

The Conservative Party:

The Conservative government introduced the Renters (Reform) Bill in the last Parliament. It had reached the Lords before being scrapped for the general election. The Party has since released its new manifesto:

Temporary Capital Gains Tax relief for landlords who sell to their existing tenants

Capital Gains Tax is a tax landlords have to pay when they sell a property at a profit. The Conservative Party has said landlords would not have to pay it for two years if they sell their home to a current tenant. This is their only properly new policy on home ownership. To really have an impact, a portion of this tax break needs to go towards a discount on the price for the tenant, otherwise few will be able to afford to buy out their landlord. In addition, we know that 23,000 households were made homeless in a 9-month period last year because their landlord was selling up – this policy also needs a way for tenants who can’t buy to nominate a social landlord to step in and keep them in their home.

Permanently abolishing Stamp Duty for First-Time Buyers and introduce a new Help to Buy scheme

Stamp Duty is a tax that buyers of a property, over a certain cost, have to pay. First-time buyers aren’t charged this for homes worth up to £300,000, a figure that has been raised temporarily to £425,000. The policy would  make this uplift to £425,000 permanent. The new Help to Buy, the previous edition of which ended in March 2023, is designed to help first time buyers with getting together a deposit, but has been blamed for inflation in house prices. While a small piece of the puzzle, neither of these policies would fundamentally change the outlook in the way renters need.

Housebuilding target: 1.6m homes over 5 years, equivalent to 320,000. No social housing target

Energy efficiency: “we will fund an energy efficiency voucher scheme, open to every household in England, to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and solar panels”

Right to buy: “protect the laws that ensure the discounts rise with inflation and fight any plan by local authorities to abolish the Right to Buy altogether.”

The Green Party

The Green party’s manifesto promised “a fair deal for renters”, including:

Rent controls so local authorities can control rents if the rental market is overheated

Devolution of rent control to Local Authorities would mean that your council would have the power to slam the brakes on unaffordable rent increases faced by tenants. This could help tenants stay in our homes for longer, with less pressure on our wallets. We hope to see more details in the future about how this will be enforced.

A new stable rental tenancy and an end to no-fault evictions

Renters know that unstable tenancies and no-fault evictions can make life intolerable. We welcome any intervention that ends the landlord’s right to kick us out of our homes at short notice through no fault of our own. However, there is a lack of detail as to what ‘stable rental tenancy’ means – it must be an open ended tenancy for this policy to be truly effective.

Provide 150,000 new social homes every year

A new law would “give local authorities, registered social landlords and community housing groups the first option to buy certain properties at reasonable rates, for example private rental property that hasn’t been insulated to EPC rating C or that fails to meet the decent homes standard, or any property that is left empty for more than six months.”

Housebuilding target: none, except for pledge that some of 150,000 social homes per year will be new build

Energy efficiency: increase the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) to EPC C and new rights to demand energy efficiency improvements and insist that their landlords access property-linked finance on their behalf.

The manifesto also says: “Landlords will not need to provide any up-front finance, but they would have to repay the debt and will benefit from the improved value of the property. Rent controls would prevent them passing repayments straight on to tenants.”

Right to buy: end it “to keep social homes for local communities in perpetuity”

The Labour Party

Labour’s commitment to abolishing Section 21 means that all major parties are now committed to abolishing the outdated and draconian evictions that have become the bane of renters’ lives. They have further promises which will “overhaul the regulation of the private rented sector”, including:

Empowering renters to challenge unreasonable rent increases and prevent renters being discriminated against and exploited

As well as “immediately” abolishing Section 21, Labour’s promises represent more wholesale reforms that are desperately needed. The devil will be in the detail as to what empowering renters to challenge unreasonable rent increases would mean in practice – in order to be effective, it must limit the rent increases landlords can impose to tenants stay put, rather than continue to allow landlords to push rents up faster than tenants’ wages. Generation Rent welcomes efforts to prevent discrimination in renting and also await the detail on this.

Decisively raise standards, including extending Awaab’s Law to the private rented sector and ensure homes meet MEES

Introducing Awaab’s law to the private rented sector, equalising our protections with those of social tenants, would represent the righting of another wrong from the last parliament.

Give first-time buyers the first chance to buy homes instead of international investors, and a permanent, comprehensive mortgage guarantee scheme, to support first-time buyers who struggle to save for a large deposit, with lower mortgage costs.

The first policy to help first-time buyers depends on local authorities, while the other is already in place, and only helped around 7,500 households last year. The main barriers to home ownership to overcome are high rents and high prices.

Housebuilding target: 1.5m over five years, equivalent to 300,000 per year. No social housing target

It is right to reform planning to deliver more homes, but this must deliver more homes that are affordable and allow those of us hurting the most right now to escape the renting crisis. This means an emphasis on new social homes, as well as protecting the existing stock.

Energy efficiency: “ensure homes in the private rented sector meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030”

Right to Buy: review Right to Buy discounts and ‘protect newly-built social housing’

Reform UK

Reform UK released a “contract with voters” in place of a manifesto. Within it, they have made no commitment to abolish Section 21 and have instead made offers to “encourage smaller landlords into the rental markets”. They simultaneously wish to “ensure that people can buy their own home”.

Scrap Section 24 taxes for landlords

Reform have outlined a tax reform to incentivise smaller landlords into the rental market. This tax, introduced in 2015, means landlords pay according to the gross income they make, without being able to deduct costs.

Abolish the Renters’ (Reform) Bill

The contract with voters makes the promise to “abolish the Renters’ (Reform) Bill”, which means that Section 21 evictions would continue, and the other protections the Bill promised renters would not be brough forward. In its stead, a pledge to “boost the monitoring, appeals and enforcement processes for renters with grievances” is promised. There is no detail as to what this would entail.

No matter who forms the next government, Generation Rent will continue to advocate for wholesale reform of renting to work better for those of us who live the reality.

Private renters have been ignored for too long, our voices must be head. Read our demands for a new government here.

Are you registered to vote?

Over one million renters are eligible to vote but are not registered. Generation Rent is campaigning to get renters’ voices heard by those in power by encouraging them to register to vote. If you are one of the missing million, register to vote here. Your landlord is voting, are you?

The Liberal Democrat manifesto is available in full here

The Conservate manifesto is available in full here

The Green manifesto is available in full here

The Labour manifesto is available in full here


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