Housing

Housing

Housing is a fundamental human right. We believe that everyone should have a home that is safe, comfortable, and fit for the future.

Rent Controls and Council Tax

We will introduce rent controls to bring rents down to a level we can all afford. No one should have to choose between paying their rent or their heating bill.

Property owners should pay council tax instead of tenants, as they are the ones who benefit from the property value that is being taxed. Rent controls will ensure this cost is not passed on to tenants.

Renters’ Rights

We will expand renters’ rights. Over 15% of Northerners live in privately rented accommodation that is often insecure and poor quality.

To address this, we will change the Housing Acts in the following ways:

  • Guarantee 3 year terms for assured shorthold tenancies;
  • Amend the Housing Act 2004 to make selective landlord licensing schemes universal across all local authorities and fund proper resourcing for enforcement of minimum standards;
  • Abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, which allows landlords to serve tenants with an eviction notice without giving a reason (the government has promised to abolish these no-fault evictions but has not delivered); and
  • Make all grounds for Section 8 of the Housing Act 1988 eviction (which allows landlords to apply for possession of a property and evict the tenants) discretionary, allowing the court to decide not to evict even if the grounds are proven.

We will regulate landlords by including a requirement to provide homes of a high standard in all licensing schemes, and we will give appropriate funding and resources to the agencies which administer these schemes to ensure such requirements are fully enforced. This will result in rented homes that are well-insulated, safe, and comfortable to live in.

Second Home Tax

We will raise funds by taxing empty properties and second homes (which are more likely to be owned by the wealthiest among us) and use the proceeds to improve our communities. We will also make use of powers to take on the management of long-term empty homes, and bring them back into use as social housing. This will replace insecure private renting with secure long-term social tenancies.

In communities suffering acute housing shortages due to holiday homes and lets, such as Ambleside in Cumbria, we will ban the purchase of second homes. This follows the example of other communities such as St Ives in Cornwall.

Flammable Cladding

The government’s negligence in refusing to address flammable cladding in the wake of Grenfell is shameful. Their negligence continues to put lives in danger and has left individual households bearing massive costs for refurbishment. We will fund the refit of buildings clad in flammable materials as swiftly as possible, before another tragedy occurs. This includes reinsulating buildings that have been stripped of cladding but left unfinished.

Social Housing

Everyone should have the chance to put down roots in their community and have safe, comfortable and affordable housing. We will construct new, high-quality social housing that is available at affordable social rents, energy efficient, and suitable for everyone (including pensioners, new families, and young people just starting out in life). We will also fund programmes to refit existing council housing and bring it up to a high standard of comfort and energy efficiency.

We will ensure that disabled people have access to housing that suits their needs, whether this is through new, purpose-built housing or refitting existing homes.

Homelessness

We will implement a Housing First policy to tackle homelessness. This is a successful, evidence-based approach which has been piloted in Newcastle and Greater Manchester, where there are no conditions around ‘readiness’ before providing someone with safe housing. A safe and secure home is the foundation that everyone needs before any other issues can be addressed.

We will expand the definition of “statutory homelessness” to include exposure to any form of domestic violence or abuse, and ensure that people forced out of their homes are offered support no matter the reason. We will also expand the definition to include neighbourhood issues such as being repeatedly targeted by hate crimes.

Insulation

We will ensure all homes are properly insulated by funding the refitting of existing homes and requiring all new builds to have a higher standard of insulation. This will help keep us healthy in the winter and during extreme heatwaves, create jobs in the construction industry and reduce our carbon emissions.

We will make the following changes to how energy performance is regulated, making sure that no one can let or sell-on substandard housing and bring energy bills down as standards improve:

  • We will raise the minimum energy performance certificate rating (EPC rating) of non-listed buildings that are let or sold from E to C, which means these homes will need less energy to heat;
  • We will introduce subsidies for owner-occupiers of qualifying properties with EPC ratings below C to bring them to that standard; and
  • We will invest in newer green technologies for insulation, reducing the cost of installation, fire risk, and health risks to those working with insulation.