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Boris pledges home help

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Helen Pow

Conservative candidate for London Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to encourage the renovation of empty homes, release dormant housing and build 50,000 more homes to help out first-time buyers.

Johnson says that if he is elected as mayor, he will launch a first steps housing scheme for first-time buyers who are not eligible for current Government schemesHe says that he will release GLA-owned land and use £130m from the regional housing pot to fund the scheme. He has also pledged to increase shared-ownership schemes by a third for low-income families.

Johnson says that he will aim to build 50,000 more affordable homes by 2011 and invest £60m from the regional housing pot to start renovating London's 84,205 empty properties.

He will offer incentives to boroughs to release dormant housing and encourage councils to deliver more family-sized homes.

Johnson also promises to help to protect private tenants from unscrupulous landlords by publishing an online fair rents guide and exploring the possibility of a tenant deposit scheme with a guaranteed arbitration period of one month.

He says: "After eight years under Ken Livingstone, housing waiting lists in some areas have almost tripled while fewer affordable homes are being built and the quality of developments has declined.

"The number of first-time buyers in the city has almost halved. We urgently need fresh thinking to get more homes built and to give a helping hand to those who want to own their own home."

London & Country technical manager Richard Morea says: "Anything that is designed to help first-time buyers is welcome. There are a lot of people excluded from current schemes because they are not key workers so I think making it more broadly available is a very good idea and will probably keep more people in London. It also makes great sense to release GLA-owned land and renovate empty properties."

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