Monday, 30 May 2016

Council tenants struggle to buy their homes, survey reveals

Right to buy falls flat

Only 4 per cent of people who have expressed an interest in buying their home under the government’s revamped right to buy have managed to complete a sale.

Just 233 sales have completed at 25 councils in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle, compared with 5,697 expressions of interest from tenants, a survey by Inside Housing has found. This equates to a conversion rate of 4 per cent.

Prime minister David Cameron launched the ‘revitalised’ policy six months ago, trebling the discounts in some parts of the country, with the aim of achieving 100,000 sales.

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has recorded 268 expressions of interest since April, when the higher discounts came into effect.

Andrew Johnson, cabinet member for housing at the Conservative-led west London authority, said delays were caused by people waiting to get mortgages: ‘Property prices in Hammersmith & Fulham remain a stumbling block for many applicants.’

‘I’d like the government to go further and introduce a right to part buy, giving tenants the ability to part buy their council home,’ Mr Johnson added.

Birmingham Council received the greatest number of expressions of interest, at 696, but has sold just 65 properties since April. In the same period last year it sold 71 homes.

Croydon Council recorded 119 expressions of interest since April, versus just two sales. ‘As far as I’m concerned the mortgage market is dead in the water and that’s delaying the process,’ said Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing at Croydon Council. He added that lower discounts in Croydon, because of the lower value of homes, made the deals unattractive to banks.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association blamed the mortgage market for the disparity. ‘The LGA will continue to press the government for a review of the right to buy policy after one year,’ he said.

A spokesperson for the Communities and Local Government department said: ‘We would expect anyone thinking of buying their home under the scheme to have waited until the new discounts came into force in April and it takes a number of months for a sale to go through.’

Survey results

Figures are for the period from 1 April. The sales figures for Leeds are until the end of August, and the 2011 figures for Hounslow and Hammersmith are for the full year.

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