What would a Lib Dem government mean for property in north London?

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to built 20,000 homes a year by 2020

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to built 20,000 homes a year by 2020 - Credit: Archant

The property market has a significant impact on the general health of the UK economy, and in the forthcoming election housing is a hot political potato.

Over the next three weeks I will give an overview of each of the main parties’ positions relating to property and how these could affect the local housing market in north London.

At the time of writing not all the parties have released their full manifestos. However, each of the three parties have given a clear message that housing is an important battleground and have set out policies they will pursue if they form the new government.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats plan to increase the supply of new homes by setting a target to build up to 300,000 new homes a year by 2020, although there are currently no detailed plans to amend the planning system to help achieve this.

DCLG figures show that 118,760 new homes were completed in England in 2014. Nearly tripling this figure will seem ambitious but is certainly a goal worth aiming for. Many of the problems in the housing market have their roots in the chronic undersupply of new homes being built.

Currently 16 per cent of the population rent privately, while 8 per cent rent from the local authority or housing associations. The Lib Dems will promote and support shared ownership, and will work with housing providers to find new ways to offer 30,000 ‘rent to own’ properties by 2020 to sit alongside the traditional rented sector.

Designed to give help to first time buyers, ‘Rent-to-own’ will offer those who have been unable to save for a deposit a route to home ownership.

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Without having the need to pay an upfront deposit, people who qualify will build up a share in their home by paying the equivalent of a monthly rent. They will gain full ownership of the property after 30 years.

A Lib Dem government will build at least 10 new ‘garden cities’ across England. There is no mention at the moment where these will be sited.

The Lib Dems were the first to propose a Mansion Tax on properties worth over £2m back in 2009. Their plan is to implement a ‘High Value Property Levy’. This will impose an additional charge of £2,000 pa on homes valued between £2m and £2.5m, £3,500 pa on homes between £2.5m and £3m, and £9,000pa between £4m and £5m.

A Lib Dem government will reform the ‘Bedroom Tax’ so that existing social tenants are not penalised before they have been given a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation.

There are no significant plans to make changes to the Private Rented Sector but there will be help for tenants who are struggling to raise a deposit.

The ‘Help to Rent’ policy will allow people aged between 18 and 30 to take out a government loan to use as their deposit when renting a property.

For those renting in London up to £2,000 can be borrowed (£1,200 in other parts of the country) and repaid over 12 to 24 months at a fixed interest rate. I see this as a potentially good idea.

Raising the money for the deposit is a stumbling block for many, especially between tenancies where the deposit is being held while a dispute over dilapidations is being resolved between the landlord and outgoing tenant.