Thursday, 19 January 2017

Report finds 52,000 right to buy homes in London now rented privately

Nearly half the homes sold under right to buy in some of London’s poorest boroughs are now owned by private landlords, a new report has revealed.

The research revealed 52,000 council homes sold in the capital under right to buy are now rented out privately.

This represents 36 per cent of the homes sold since the policy was first introduced in the 1980s.

In Enfield and Tower Hamlets, two of London’s poorest boroughs, 50 per cent of the homes sold through right to buy are now estimated to be in the private rented sector.

The research, conducted by Labour London Assembly Member Tom Copley, said 271,438 home have been sold through right to buy in the capital with only 880 replacements built by 2011.

He branded the policy ‘Whitehall-sanctioned robbery of the taxpayer’.

‘Right to Buy has played a central role in causing and exacerbating the current housing crisis,’ he said.

‘Future governments must recognise that the right of a council tenant to buy their home at a discount, subsidised by other taxpayers, cannot be at the expense of the right of the vast majority of people to have a decent, affordable home to live in.’

The report recommends mandatory covenants to prevent right to buy properties being let privately, an end to the current system of discounts and a ‘right not to sell’ for local authorities.

Since April, tenants in London have been able to receive a £100,000 discount on the purchase of their council house.

The government has promised one-to-one replacements for every unit sold, but in 2012/13 and in the year to date, 10,954 council homes have been sold nationwide, with only 1,662 replacements started same period.

Mr Copley conducted the research through freedom of information requests, generating his estimates by checking the number of properties where the council owns the freehold but not the leasehold, and where the leaseholder is registered at an away address.

Andrew Boff, GLA Conservatives housing spokesman, said: ‘Right to buy has been enormously beneficial to millions of council tenants over the past thirty years.

‘The recommendations in this report would effectively dismantle right to buy, because you cannot meaningfully buy or own something with so many restrictions and clauses on what you can do with it. By the very figures contained in this report, almost two thirds of right to buy properties are still owner occupied, therefore any measures that damage this successful scheme will mostly hit people who work hard and aspire to own their own home.’

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