The party said in a statement issued over the weekend that, if elected, a Tory government would "offer to strike new deals with the most ambitious councils and housing associations, giving them funding, capacity support and new powers to build a new generation of homes for social rent".
It said that, under the deals, the government would "give councils and housing associations funding and make available housebuilding capability" from housing and regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency.
There would also be reforms to compulsory purchase order (CPO) rules "to allow councils to buy brownfield land and pocket sites more cheaply".
The party said that, at the moment, "councils must purchase land at ‘market value’, which includes the price with planning permission, irrespective of whether it has it or not".
"Local authorities therefore very rarely use their CPO powers for social housing, leaving derelict buildings in town centres, unused pocket sites and industrial sites remain undeveloped".
The statement said that councils would need to "demonstrate social housing need and the deals will include checks on the quality of the homes built".
"We expect a number of ambitious councils already seeking to expand their own housebuilding capability to take advantage of this offer, including large urban centres like Birmingham and Manchester, who have a need for new social housing".
In exchange for the support and new powers, the statement said that the government "would require at least some of the homes built to have a fixed term of social rent, for example ten to fifteen years, after which they would be sold to a private owner, landlord or institutional investor" with the tenant having the the first right to buy the property.
Proceeds would then be "reinvested in new social homes over time".
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to "directly build homes to fill the gap left by the market", to help reach a house-building target of 300,000 homes a year, "through a government commissioning programme to build homes for sale and rent".
The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to:
- Set up "a new government-backed Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank to provide long-term capital for major new settlements and house building projects".
- Enable local authorities "to penalise excessive land-banking when builders with planning permission have failed to build after three years".
- "Scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes".
- Lift the borrowing cap on Local Authorities to build more social homes for rent.
The leaked Labour manifesto which emerged last week said that the party would build a million new homes over the next parliament, half of which would be social homes.
The party would also establish a new Department for Housing which would be "tasked with improving the number, standards and affordability of homes".