Revealed: 40% of ex-council flats now rented privately
Nearly 40% of all council flats sold under the Right to Buy in England are now being rented out privately, according to exclusive research by Inside Housing.
Figures released by 91 councils under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), in the most comprehensive piece of nationwide research on the issue, show 37.6% of ex-council flats are likely being rented privately at market rents.
It comes as the government prepares to extend Right to Buy discounts of up to £100,000 to a further 1.3m housing association tenants – a policy it estimates will cost £4.5bn.
The councils revealed they have sold a total of 127,763 leasehold properties, with 47,994 leaseholders living at another address, a strong indication that the home is being sub-let.
The National Housing Federation (NHF) said the figures demonstrate why it is keen to “explore with government other ways housing associations can help more families get on the path towards buying their own home” apart from extending the Right to Buy.
The research showed more than half the ex-council flats in six areas are now being let privately, with the highest – 69.6% – in Milton Keynes.
Many councils rent back their former properties sold through the Right to Buy at market rates to provide temporary accommodation to homeless families. Some ex-local authority homes in London are advertised on Zoopla for more than four times the average social rent.
Pat Callaghan, cabinet member for housing at Labour-led Camden Council – where 36% of the 8,922 leasehold properties are sub-let – said: “Over the years, I have seen many of our estates become virtual honey pots for estate agents and [private] landlords.”
Conservative Gary Porter, chair of the Local Government Association, said the research demonstrated why councils should be allowed to keep Right to Buy receipts to build replacement homes.
Inside Housing’s research is the first major national study – following a similar survey of 13 authorities by the Daily Mirror in 2013, and a London-wide survey by Assembly member Tom Copley last year.
Brandon Lewis, housing minister, said extending the Right to Buy was “part of our wider efforts to help anyone who works hard and wants to own their own home achieve their dream”.