Continued from part 1, with the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour. 

Welsh Conservatives

The Conservatives almost exclusively focus on buying and owning houses in terms of the private sector. ‘Rent to Buy’ sounds interesting, a lot like the Lib Dems’ ‘Rent to Own’ scheme. They also propose social enterprise letting agencies which is a nice idea, perhaps not for profit and run by the tenants themselves? And their main renting pledge is to substitute tuition fee grants for students with a ‘rent rebate’, directly helping with their rent whether in England or Wales. A nice gift to private landlords?

Conseratives Housing 1

Key pledges on Private Housing

  • To “recognise the need to build 70,000 houses” over the course of the Fifth Assembly by taking a whole-market approach for rent, home ownership and open market purchase.
  • Implement a Rent to Buy scheme, to make home ownership more accessible.
  • Develop a Starter Home Cymru scheme to deliver below market value properties.
  • Scrap Stamp Duty for first-time buyers of all properties up to the value of £250,000, breaking down a major barrier to home- ownership.
  • Extend Help to Buy to properties in need of renovation, helping to rejuvenate communities and stimulate local construction firms.
  • Encourage participation in the UK Government’s ‘Help to Buy: ISA’.
  • Deliver an empty homes strategy, bringing properties back into use.
  • Support Rural Housing Enablers to deliver affordable rural housing that meets local need.
  • Work with the privately-rented sector to develop social letting agencies – linked to proper accreditation standards – as social enterprises to meet the needs of the hardest to house.
  • Introduce a ‘Student Rent Rebate’, offering undergraduates help directly with their rent, whether in Wales or England.

Conservatives Housing 2

Key pledges on Social Housing

  • Protect Right to Buy for tenants who want to buy their council home, restoring the full discount.
  • Reinvest Right to Buy proceeds into new social housing.
  • Offer housing associations the choice of providing Right to Buy to tenants where this would help delivery of individual housing schemes.
  • Commit to achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020 in all social housing.
  • Work with the construction industry to embrace safety and energy efficiency, whilst cutting unnecessary red tape to encourage house building.
  • Link new and renovated housing supply to sustainable community regeneration, by working with social landlords to meet public health needs.

 

Wales Green Party

The Green Party usually offers intelligent solutions for big problems. In terms of housing, they propose broad ‘Right to Rent’ legislation to directly strengthen tenants’ rights. They don’t offer much else on the private sector itself but a dedicated Bill just for tenants would be welcome, since the Renting Homes Bill fell short of really strengthening their rights.

Greens Housing 1

Key pledges on Social Housing

  • Make available 12,000 new homes per year, with one third of these designated for social housing.
  • To not build on flood plains.
  • Ensure all existing social housing and housing association building stock is at level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes by 2020. Also would update Part L of the Building Regulations in Wales for all new buildings to be carbon positive by 2020.
  • Prevent ‘land banking’ by mandating that planning permissions for housing developments must be implemented in three years rather than five.
  • Protect people from the ‘bedroom tax’ by applying for a rebate for Wales.

Greens Housing 2

Key pledges on Private Housing

  • Introduce ‘Right to Rent’ legislation to strengthen private tenants’ rights.
  • Make upgrading the housing stock a national infrastructure priority.
  • Launch a 10-year programme of investment in Wales’ housing stock to make properties more energy efficient.
  • Continue to offer area-based energy efficiency programmes to tackle fuel poverty.
  • Widen access to energy efficiency programmes to people whose health is at risk.
  • Introduce an accessible, zero-interest loan scheme for home energy efficiency improvements for those who can afford to pay.

 

 

UKIP Wales

And finally, UKIP. Unlike all the other parties, they want to stop imposing house-building targets. They want to give local people a veto of planning applications – many of them housing developments – and have broad commitments to incentivising development by offering more money to developers.

UKIP Housing 2

Key pledges on Social Housing

  • Free local authorities from “government-imposed” minimum housing numbers.
  • Incentivise brownfield development by offering grants of up to £10,000 per unit to developers.
  • Bring empty homes back into use.
  • Resist any building regulations which increase cost and complexity and reduce housebuilding.
  • Promote smaller 6-12 unit developments in rural areas.
  • Introduce a planning presumption outside town centres in favour of conversion to residential use rather than office or retail.
  • Allow local people the final say (through a referendum) on major planning decisions, like housing developments.

UKIP Housing 1

Key pledges on Private Housing

  • Nothing to note.

 

So who is best for renters? Well if you managed to read all of that, there are two outstanding parties. The Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru by far have the best policies for renting. The Green Party are well-intentioned but with no detail. Welsh Labour focus on social housing with very little thought on the private rented sector. The Welsh Conservatives are very much focused on helping you buy a house, not rent it, but they have interesting ideas on social letting agencies. And finally, just don’t vote UKIP. Their housing policies wouldn’t do anyone any good.