Landlords urged to sell high-value homes
Social landlords should sell off their most expensive homes and reinvest the money in new builds, a think tank has recommended.
A report from Policy Exchange said that housing associations and councils putting high value social housing on the market when it becomes vacant could generate enough cash to fund up to 170,000 new homes a year.
But the National Housing Federation called the findings ‘fundamentally flawed’ and warned the idea could ‘cleanse’ some high-value areas of working people who cannot afford to live there.
‘It could effectively cleanse many towns of hard working people who simply can’t afford the high prices of buying or renting privately.’
David Orr, chief executive, NHF
The report – Ending expensive social tenancies – claimed that more than one fifth of England’s social housing stock was worth more than its area’s average house price, with a total value of £159 billion.
The sale of the 3.5 per cent of these that become vacant each year would generate around £4.5 billion, which is equivalent to the £4.4 billion capital expenditure on social housing earmarked for the 2011/15 comprehensive spending review period.
Alex Morton, the author of the report, said: ‘Expensive social housing is costly, unpopular and unfair. That is why almost everybody rejects it. Social housing tenants deserve a roof over their heads – but not one better than most people can afford, particularly as expensive social housing means less social housing and so longer waiting lists for most people in need.’
Housing minister Grant Shapps was supportive of the idea but there was opposition from the NHF.
‘The Policy Exchange’s report rightly recognises that we have a huge shortage of homes and urgently need to start building more,’ said David Orr, chief executive of the NHF.‘ And part of that solution is that housing associations should be able to take advantage of the value of their properties in different ways.
‘However, the idea of selling off social housing in “high value” areas to build more in cheaper areas is fundamentally flawed. It could effectively cleanse many towns of hard working people who simply can’t afford the high prices of buying or renting privately. The report also ignores the fact that there is not the mortgage availability or market for people to buy these homes.’