With the election looming large on the horizon, it’s time for property investors to consider which side of the fence they are on. Will it be Labour, Conservative, SNP or Lib Dems?
Looking at each party’s manifesto ahead of the general election reveals some major differences on policy. Anyone who has the idea that there is little difference in what each of the political parties have to offer should think again.
While issues such as immigration, Europe, the economy and Ed Miliband’s personality have been the main topics of conversation, housing policy has been largely below the radar. So let’s take a look at how each party plans to meddle (sorry mend) the UK property market and which one offers the most attractive pledges for landlords.
As you might expect from the party that encourages people to work for what they have, the Tories will be the last party to consider taking it away. The Tories have been largely responsible for the UK’s property boom and housing shortage in equal measure.
They first allowed council house owners to buy their property at a discount more than 30 years ago and this triggered a stampede towards home ownership which most people outside of the wealthy middle classes hadn’t thought about back then.
Now if you’re over 40 and don’t own your own home, then taking the Conservative view you have probably missed the boat. One of their policies is to hand people (under 40) a first-time buyer discount of 20%, so heaven help you if you’ve been a bit slow and reached your 40th birthday still living at home with your parents.
Other than that eye-catching pledge, the Conservatives plan for UK housing is more of the same with a lot more building, oh and a Help To Buy ISA which 20 and 30 somethings can use to buy themselves a flat somewhere.
When Labour’s ministers sat down to write their pledges, they must have checked to see there were no landlords present. Their pledge to ‘guarantee three-year tenancy agreements in the private sector and a put a “ceiling” on rent increases’ really is a kick in the groin for landlords and then another one for good measure.
Maybe the landlord vote isn’t worth having or there are more young people than we think likely to vote Labour so that they can stay in their rented homes longer. Tenancy agreements of course work both ways, landlords may be happy to have the security of a tenant sitting in their property for three years. They might be less enthusiastic about having the cap on rent extend for that long or have a bad tenant extending their right to irritate their landlord for six times longer than is currently the case.
As with the Conservatives, Labour plans to flood the country with 200,000 more houses which it believes will help solve the housing shortage in the South East. It also plans to give first time buyers priority in new housing areas which is a nice idea if those first time buyers can actually afford the houses with nothing on the table to help them with a deposit.
The Lib Dems (300,000 homes), UKIP (1 million homes) and the Greens (500,000 homes) all plan monster buildings booms that we’ll never actually see but they need to put something together to show us a reason why they should be in a coalition.
The SNP, that great thorn in the side of Labour and the Conservatives have pledged to abolish the bedroom tax and the Respect Party wants to take us back to 1978 by starting a comprehensive programme of council house building.
Whichever party you choose it will be interesting to see which parties from a coalition and if you’re a landlord, the answer is probably somewhere to the right of the political spectrum.
Posted on: April 24, 2015