Final Countdown: Are you prepared to put the X in a box?

Final Countdown: Are you prepared to put the X in a box?

We’re on the final countdown, and most people have already made up their minds about which box they will be marking with an ‘X’ on Thursday 8TH June. However, if you are still undecided, we’ve rounded up the overviews from the major players, to give an outline of what a future with each government in power could mean for landlords.

We have included data taken from the YouGov Poll Tracker, to highlight the UK’s voting intention, correct as of 31 May 2017:

Labour – 36% in predicted polls

Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour are keen to work on improving energy efficiency regulations, expanding on existing regulations and prohibiting landlords which will already prohibit landlords granting a new or renewed tenancy for properties below an EPC rating of E from April 2018.

The Housing team are keen to make three year tenancies ‘the norm’, giving tenants extra security in their homes. The Mayor of London will be handed additional powers to apply to London tenancies, granting the capitals’ renters an extra level of security in their rented properties.

A proposed inflation cap on rent rises has been suggested, with an inflation cap on rent rises. Along with the majority all other parties, Labour are planning to introduce a blanket ban on letting agent’s fees for tenants.

In a move popular with most, Labour are planning to hand additional rights to tenants, introducing new consumer rights which will enable tenants to take action if their homes are sub-standard. New legal minimum standards will be introduced as guidelines for these actions, details exactly what is deemed ‘fit for human habitation’.

In order to tackle the UK’s growing housing stock issue, Labour are looking to suspend the Right to Buy policy, and have plans to build 100,000 additional council and housing association homes a year, as well as making 4,000 additional homes available for the country’s rough sleepers.

There are no plans for a Labour government to make a U-Turn on the Section 24 restrictions, or mortgage interest relief – this is a hefty tax that Mr Corbyn is firmly behind.

You should expect to see hikes in corporation tax. This would rise to 21% from 2018/19, to 24% in 2019/20 and a whopping 26% in 2020/21. Small businesses (below £300,000) will see the reintroduction of corporation tax, which will be set at 20% from 2018/19, raising to 21% in 2020/21.

Small business under £85,000 will be excluded from the quarterly reporting requirements that are being phased in under the ‘Making Tax Digital’ Scheme, helping alleviate the pressure a little.

A Labour government would see the return of the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance (LESA), designed to help push landlords into making vital energy efficiency improvements in their properties. Improvement costs would be able to be offset against income tax, to a certain amount, which hasn’t yet been disclosed. This has been a key lobbying campaign for the NLA.

Conservative - 43% in predicted polls

Unsurprisingly, Mrs May’s manifesto is unrelenting on the tax changes recently introduced by the current Conservative government. The manifesto is sticking to its guns on this thorny issue, however, there is good news elsewhere – it suggests that corporation tax would be reduced to 17% as previously announced, and the threshold for higher rate income tax would still be pushed up to £50,000 by 2020 as planned.

Similarly to Labour, the Conservative housing team are also keen to explore longer tenancies as a standard, offering more security to tenants. As outlined in the Housing White Paper, the current government are committed to implementing a lettings fee ban for tenants, and are also keen to bring into force a fair debt policy. This policy is designed to create a ‘breathing space’ for anyone in serious debt, allowing them to apply for legal protection from further interest, charges and enforcement action for a period of up to six weeks.

With Right to Rent checks continuing in the spotlight, the Conservative pledge to reevaluate the equalities law, ensuring that any private landlords who deny potential tenants a property on the basis of ethnicity, religion or gender are investigated and persecuted is likely to feature high on the political agenda.

The manifesto contains a pledge to commit to upgrading all fuel poor homes to EPC band C by 2030.

Liberal Democrat - 9% in predicted polls

The Liberal Democrat manifesto is great news for tenants who are looking to own a stake in their property, as they are keen to introduce a ‘rent to own’ model, which would allow rent payments to go towards buying a stake in the property, working towards owning it outright after 30 years.

Tenants would also be offered forst refusal to buy any property that they are renting from a private landlord, at the market rate (following an independent valuation) if the landlord chooses to sell during the tenancy.

As well as scrapping letting agent’s fees, the Lib Dems are keen to cap upfront deposits, making the private rental market an affordable option for more private tenants. They are keen to establish a ‘Help to Rent’ scheme, providing government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30.

Like Labour and Conservative manifestos, the Liberal Democrats also want to see more long term tenancy agreements, or three years or more. They are keen to ensure that in inflation-linked annual rent increases are built into long-term contracts, offering tenants security against unfair rent hikes.

There are plans to introduce mandatory licensing schemes, and give tenants access to the database of rogue landlords and property agents.

Similarly to the Conservative manifesto, the Liberal Democrats are aiming to get every home in England up to an energy rating of Band C by 2035, via new energy efficiency targets which will be laid out in a ‘Green Buildings Act’. There are plans to ensure that four million homes are at Band C level by 2022, with fuel-poor households being made priority. Whilst the Liberal Democrats are keen to reverse many of the current proposed tax cuts, including the cutting of corporation tax, capital gains and capital gains extended relief, they are not budging on the restriction of mortgage interest relief. They have revealed plans to reform dividend tax relief, however there is not detail as to how this would be implemented.

UKIP - 4% in predicted polls

UKIP’s manifesto is not very comprehensive with regards to its policies surrounding the private rented sector. However, there are a few elements which could have a significant impact on landlords. For example, one proposal is that tenants should have the right to request that housing benefit is paid directly to landlords, regardless of what benefit scheme they are in receipt of.

The party also look to freeze insurance premium tax, something which historically has been continually raised by previous governments.

In a bid to regenerate areas of the UK, UKIP are keen to create ‘Coastal Enterprise Zones,’ in order to reverse the decline of the UK’s seaside towns. This programme would see local authorities in these areas handed more powers to access low interest government loans designed to create quality residential accommodation and renovate existing housing stock, issue compulsory purchase orders for poor quality HMOs, introduce minimum standards for properties in receipt of housing benefit and refuse to pay housing benefit payments to any landlords who are in breach of planning legislation.

Green - 0% in predicted polls

The Green Party are passionate about the housing market, with much of their manifesto built around property promises. Many of the promises are appealing to young voters, with plans including the reinstating of housing benefit for under-21s in a bid to stop local authorities declaring young people "intentionally homeless", a promise to invest in community house-building projects to provide affordable, secure housing options for young people, and a pledge to treat the housing needs of single people and childless couples in the same way as families

The party is looking to introduce a living rent for all, through rent controls and more secure tenancies for private renters. In addition, they plan to bring about an end to letting fees, the introduction of mandatory licensing for all landlords and support of the development of renters’ unions.

In a move that would no doubt be popular with many existing tenants, the party plan to abolish the controversial bedroom tax.

To fulfil the widening void in the UK housing market, the Green Party are pledging to build affordable, zero carbon homes, including 100,000 social rented homes each year by 2022, and bring empty homes back into use. In addition, they are planning to end the sale of council houses and scrap the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme.

Plaid Cymru - 0% in predicted polls

For Welsh landlords, the Plaid Cymru manifesto is vitally important. The party have plans to roll out a nationwide scheme to make housing stock more energy efficient, and secure compensation for those who suffered from badly installed, government backed cavity wall installation.

Like the Green Party, Plaid Cymru is also committed to scrapping the bedroom tax.

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