Right-to-buy has stoked the housing crisis – but the Tories want to roll it out further

400,000 houses sold under right-to-buy are now being rented privately and for double average council rents. The policy's created a new class of buy-to-let landlords.

Four in ten former council homes sold under right-to-buy are now being rented out by private landlords – at double the price of council rents, new research shows.

40 per cent of housing stock sold to former council tenants over the past 40 years is now rented out for an average rent of £210 per week, compared to the average council rent of £88 per week, research by Inside Housing shows.

About 400,000 of the 2 million homes sold under right-to-buy since 1980 are being rented out privately.

In Milton Keynes, the “right-to-buy-to-let capital” of England, over 70 per cent of former council homes are now rented out.

And the number of former council homes owned by private landlords is increasing over time. Inside Housing conducted a similar survey in 2015 that found 37.6% of former council homes sold under the scheme were in the hands of landlords.

The magazine said it anticipated that by 2026 half of former council homes sold would have been taken over by private landlords.

Rather than the ‘home owning democracy’ trumpeted by the Tories since the 80s, right-to-buy has created a new class of buy-to-let landlords who are milking tenants dry.

And yet the Tories want to roll it out to a further 1.3m homes in the UK by extending the policy to housing association tenants.

In their 2015 manifesto the Tories promised to “dramatically extend the Right to Buy to the tenants of Housing Associations – putting home ownership within the reach of 1.3 million more families.”

A regional pilot scheme will be rolled out in the Midlands in 2018 before the policy is implemented nationally.

The Tories claim they would replace every council and housing association home sold with two “affordable” homes. But “affordable” means 80 per cent of market value, which is clearly out of reach for many people.

Were the policy enacted, Britain’s remaining genuinely affordable housing stock would be further diminished and the housing crisis heightened. The Tory scheme must be opposed at all costs.

Commenting on today’s figures, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for housing, John Healey, said the party would suspend right-to-buy and “invest in the biggest council housebuilding programme in more than 30 years”.

“We desperately need more genuinely affordable homes, but the Conservatives’ right-to-buy means council homes are being sold off and communities are losing out.

“Only one in five homes recently sold under the right-to-buy has been replaced. As this research shows, too often these homes become buy-to-let investments with higher rents costing the taxpayer millions more in housing benefit.

Whatever the aims of right-to-buy may, or may not, have been, it’s clearly a failed policy benefiting a small group of buy-to-let landlords. Housing in Britain needs a radical solution and that means ending right-to-buy and building new council homes.

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3 Responses to “Right-to-buy has stoked the housing crisis – but the Tories want to roll it out further”

  1. Jason

    It would appear that it is the council tenant who is buying their house and then using it as a rental property or making a profit from selling to a third person to rent. The right to buy abuse is not the Tories but the council tenant who bought his home simply for profit ! Great socialists they are hey?

  2. William

    It would have been an easy task to put a covenant on the sales forbidding on-going rental to any third party.
    This, of course, would not have been in the interests of the capitalists so has not happened.

  3. Dave Roberts

    William. What you describe is a restrictive covenant and they do exist but they would, in this case, have defeated the object of the exercise. Thatcher wanted to extend and expand McMillan’s ” Property owning democracy” rapidly and cheaply and this was the way.

    Jason is correct in that it was the tenant/owner who took advantage of the deal to get on the property ladder and therefore started the spiral of sale after sale.

    The main problem is an expanding population, London’s will be ten million within a decade, and not enough land where people want to live, in other words where the work is. There is not enough land, no money, and not enough skilled labour to tackle the problem and the politicians are lying when they say they are going to. End of story.

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