At its annual conference, the Labour party said it would introduce unions for renters and sell low-cost properties with mortgage repayments set at a third of average local pay.

Mortgages and rents could be set at just a third of average incomes to make property more affordable for those on low pay, the Labour party has said.

Shadow housing secretary John Healey promised a radical overhaul of the housing market if Labour got into power, including a better deal for renters with the creation of government-funded unions to defend tenants’ rights.

These unions would fight for better conditions, increased security and controlled costs for those living in rented homes.

Speaking at the party's annual conference, Healey said a Labour Government would build one million new affordable council or housing association properties.

He added it would introduce ‘living rent’ homes, under which rents would be set a third of average local incomes.

A similar scheme would see low-cost homes available to buy for people on low incomes with mortgage repayments set at the equivalent of a third of local pay.

Healey also promised to introduce a levy on second homes used as holiday homes. The move would see 174,000 properties in England face an annual bill of around £3,000 each. 

The new levy would effectively double the council tax bill for holiday homes, with the extra money sent back to the Treasury.

He said: “We will lead a new national housing mission which demands more of all – from commercial house builders to housing associations, from lenders to landlords, from tenants to local councils.”

What are the key pledges?

Healey claimed that the next Labour Government "will be the most radical Government on housing since that great post-war Labour Government". It would:

  • Set up a fully-fledged housing department to lead the drive to fix the housing crisis;
  • Help first-time buyers on ordinary incomes get on to the housing ladder through selling low-cost homes with mortgage repayments equivalent to a third of local pay;
  • Control rents, end no-fault evictions and put a stop to the tyranny of rogue landlords;
  • Set up government-funded unions of renters to defend tenants’ rights;
  • Build one million new affordable council and housing association homes;
  • Introduce a national levy on second homes used as holiday homes;
  • End rough sleeping within a Parliament.

What’s the background?

Healey criticised the Government and said the country faced a broken market, failing policy and widening inequality.

He claimed that the number of people sleeping rough had doubled under the Conservative Government, while home ownership rates had fallen, rents had risen and last year the number of new social rented homes built had fallen to the lowest level since the Second World War.

He added that 120,000 children were currently sleeping in temporary hostel-type rooms, having to share bathrooms with strangers.

Healey also called on the Government to take action following the Grenfell disaster. He pointed out that 15 months after the fire that killed 71 people, nearly half of the survivors still did not have permanent homes and more than 400 other tower blocks were still covered in the same combustible cladding.

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