A system of mandatory licensing, with a publicly available database of rogue landlords has been called for at the Liberal Democrat conference.
A motion was passed including a number of proposals for the private rented sector.
In addition to the call for licensing it wants:
- The promotion of longer private tenancies, with inflation or wage linked rents.
- A right to buy (or first refusal) for sitting tenants when a landlord sells.
- A cap on upfront tenant deposits.
- A ban letting agents’ fees.
It also recommits the party to a policy which aspires to develop 300,000 new a homes a year over the next decade.
The motion includes a statement that: “Over the last decade Government subsidies for rent through housing benefit have tripled to around £25 billion (of which £10 billion goes to private landlords) when subsidies to increase the supply of social housing have declined to around £1 billion a year.”
It continues: “Too many people have been forced into the private rented sector which now provides one fifth of all homes in the UK, a third of which fail to meet the Decent Homes Standard.”
The conference calls for:
- A big expansion in ‘Rent to Own’ where occupants pay rent to housing associations, in return for an increasing stake in the property over time.
- Higher quality, safety and environmental standards in the existing housing stock including the retrofitting of four million homes to higher standards.
- An increase to 500% in council tax levied where homes are being deliberately bought as investment properties and left empty for long periods with a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents purchasing such properties.
- The Housing Act 1988 to be amended so as to increase the notice that landlords must give tenants (after the initial minimum fixed term of six months) from two months to at least six months.