Lib Dems: 500% council tax hike on second homes

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to allow local authorities to hike council tax by 500 per cent for owners of second properties in their election manifesto today.
The party is also proposing to graduate stamp duty according to the energy efficiency rating of a property.
The Lib Dems say they would levy a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents buying UK properties.
Leader Jo Swinson also promises to push for longer tenancies of three years or more where rent increases are limited in line with inflation.
The manifesto pledges the mandatory licensing of all landlords.
For renters struggling to raise a deposit, it proposes a Help to Rent scheme whereby the government would loan the money to first-time tenants under 30.
A new Rent to Own model would see tenants in social rented housing gradually acquiring an increasing stake in their homes so that they own their properties outright after 30 years of paying rent.
The Lib Dems are promising to build 100,000 new social homes each year and increase total housebuilding to at least 300,000 properties annually.
In a bid to reduce carbon emissions and end fuel poverty the Lib Dems have promised to spend £6bn a year by the fifth year of Parliament on home insulation and zero-carbon heating.
Among these measures the party says low-income families will be entitled to have their homes retrofitted with energy efficiency measures free of charge.
There will also be a pilot of a new energy-saving homes scheme and lower VAT will be charged on home insulation.
Landlords will have to abide by higher minimum energy efficiency standards on their rental properties and there will be no cost cap on the amount of work they are required to carry out to bring homes up to standard.
All new homes and non-domestic buildings will have to meet a zero-carbon standard by 2021, whereby all the energy used is generated on-site by renewable sources.
Residential Landlords Association policy director David Smith says: “We welcome the Liberal Democrats’ plans to support younger tenants in accessing rented housing with a deposit loan scheme.
“This is a policy we have long been calling for and believe it could considerably improve prospects for younger people.
“This is tempered by the Party’s proposals for three year tenancies with rent increases linked to inflation.
“It is bizarre to be proposing this when the average length tenants have been in their properties is over four years and when private rents are increasing by less than inflation according to the Office for National Statistics.”
Smith adds that the Lib Dems’ plans for a blanket licensing scheme for landlords will penalise those who are conscientious while rogues remain under the radar, amounting to a  “costly waste of time.”
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