Labour promises rent controls and ‘biggest council house building programme for a generation’


Labour has unveiled its plans for the property market with a strong focus on social housing.

It also pledges rent controls, scrapping Right to Rent and banning discrimination against housing benefit tenants.

However, there is no mention of Stamp Duty reform in its election manifesto.

The party’s 107-page manifesto, published yesterday, dedicates four pages to housing and promises the “biggest council house building programme in a generation” with more than a million homes built over a decade.

Labour pledges to build at an annual rate of at least 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent.

A Labour government would also scrap the Conservative definition of affordable and replace it with a definition linked to local incomes.

In the rental market, Labour says it will get rid of the “discriminatory rules” of Right to Rent and will ensure people on housing benefit can’t be excluded from the private sector.

It would also give councils new powers to regulate short-term lets through companies such as Airbnb.

Renters are promised more powers through their own union and there are commitments to introduce rent controls, open-ended tenancies, new, binding minimum standards and nationwide landlord licensing coupled with tougher sanctions.

The manifesto promises to reform Help to Buy to focus it on first-time buyers on ordinary incomes and says that a Labour government would introduce a levy on overseas companies buying housing, while giving local people ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area.

Councils would also have powers to bring empty homes back into use and tax those left empty for more than a year.

Leaseholders would be given the right to buy their freehold at an affordable price and leasehold sales on new-builds would be banned as would unfair fees and conditions.

The manifesto backs creating a separate government department for housing and setting up a new English Sovereign Land Trust, with powers to buy land more cheaply for low-cost housing.

Developers would also face new ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on stalled housing developments.

The manifesto says: “Only Labour has a plan to fix the housing crisis.

“We will act on every front to bring the cost of housing down and standards up, so that everyone has a decent, affordable place to call home.”

A separate report – Land for the Many – published earlier this year by Labour suggested Stamp Duty Land Tax should be phased out for those buying homes to live in themselves, and Capital Gains Tax for second homes and investment properties should be increased. However, these are not mentioned in the manifesto.

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