Out-Law Guide 4 min. read

Real estate policies in UK general election manifestos


House building is a major battleground in the 2019 UK general election, with the main parties committing to major house building programme.

You can also see what the parties say about infrastructure; manufacturing and technology; energy; retail, and financial services in our companion guides.


The Conservative Party manifesto includes a previously-made commitment to build at least one million new homes over the next five years. The party has also promised to extend the right to buy for housing association tenants to further regions of the UK. Interestingly the proposal announced by secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick in October to give housing association tenants the ability to buy a share in their home was absent from the manifesto.

Real Estate commitments include plans to:

  • encourage a new market in long-term fixed rate mortgages;
  • offer more homes to local families, enabling councils to users developers contributions to discount homes by a third for local people;
  • extend the Help to Buy Scheme from 2021 to 2023;
  • reform leaseholds including implementing ban on sale of new leasehold homes;
  • introduce a 'better deal for renters', including abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions;
  • publish a social housing white paper to empower tenants and support the continued supply of social homes;
  • renew the affordable homes programme;
  • introduce a stamp duty surcharge on non-UK resident buyers to fund rough sleeping programmes and initiatives;
  • progress towards target of 300,000 new homes a year by mid 2020s;
  • amend planning laws that ensure infrastructure is built before new homes, using a new £10bn single housing infrastructure fund.


Labour has committed to building at least 150,000 new council and social homes each year. It will introduce a new zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes, and upgrade millions of existing homes to make them more energy efficient.

The party has also pledged new protections for private renters, committed to ending the sale of new leasehold properties and establishing a new Department of Housing. Real Estate commitments include plans to:

  • establish a new English Sovereign Land Trust, with powers to buy land more cheaply for low-cost housing. It says it will use public land to build this housing, not sell it off to the highest bidder;
  • introduce ‘use it or lose it’ taxes on developers for stalled housing developments and keep the Land Registry in public hands, and make ownership of land more transparent;
  • create a new Department for Housing, make Homes England more accountable national housing agency and give councils more powers;
  • introduce a zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes, and upgrading millions of existing homes to make them more energy efficient. Labour will also review the planning guidance for developments in flood risk areas;
  • commit to building at an annual rate of at least 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent in the biggest council housebuilding programme in more than a generation;
  • establish a new duty on councils to plan and build these homes in their area, and fund them to do so, with backing from national government;
  • reform Help to Buy to focus it on first-time buyers on ordinary incomes;
  • introduce a levy on overseas companies buying housing, while giving local people ‘first dibs’ on new homes built in their area;
  • end the sale of new leasehold properties, abolish unfair fees and conditions, and give leaseholders the right to buy their freehold at a price they can afford. Introduce equivalent rights for freeholders on privately owned estates;
  • cap rent rises in line with inflation, and give cities powers to cap rents further;
  • introduce open-ended tenancies to stop 'unfair no fault’ evictions;
  • fund new renters’ unions in every part of the country – to allow renters to organise and defend their rights.


As housing and planning are devolved responsibilities, the SNP has relatively little to propose on the issue in its Westminster manifesto. The manifesto does call for the UK government to change its approach to housing asylum seekers. The SNP asks for providers of housing for asylum seekers to be held accountable for standards by local authorities by the housing regulator in Scotland.

Liberal Democrat

The Liberal Democrat Party has committed to providing new spending to support the building of 300,000 omes a year by 2024 and reforming the planning system to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure such as affordable homes, schools, surgeries and roads where new homes are built.

The party has pledged to require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard by 2021 as well as increasing the minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties and remove the cost cap on improvements.

Policies include:

  • help finance the large increase in the building of social homes with investment from a £130 billion capital infrastructure budget;
  • build new houses to zero-carbon standards and cut fuel bills through a 10 year programme to reduce energy consumption from all the UK’s buildings;
  • devolve full control of Right to Buy to local councils;

To support home ownership, the Liberal Democrats will:

  • introduce a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years;
  • allow local authorities to increase council tax by up to 500% where homes are being bought as second homes with a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents purchasing such properties;

To reform the private rental sector, the Liberal Democrats will:

  • establish a new Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30;
  • promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes;
  • improve protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing;

To improve social renting, the Liberal Democrats will:

  • set clearer standards for homes that are socially rented;
  • require complaints to be dealt with in a timely manner;
  • proactively enforce the regulations that are intended to protect social renters;
  • fully recognise tenant panels so that renters have a voice in landlord governance
  • reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure from affordable homes to schools, surgeries and roads alongside new homes;
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