29 August 2015

I shall set out here over several posts the issues that I think are important in housing in England and then explore my views on these.

Selling and reselling council and housing association homes

Right to buy was introduced by the Tories in 1980: council properties were sold to sitting tenants at a discount. The aim was to enable tenants to become home owners and to replace the sold properties with new affordable ones but replacement on a one-to-one basis has not happened. The discounts were raised in 2012 by the Tory Lib Dem government and the present Tory government proposes to extend the right-to-buy to around 1.3 million people in housing association properties.

What has happened is that about 40 percent of former council homes bought by tenants under right-to-buy are not now lived in by the original buyers; the strong indication is that most have been sold on.

Here are the accounts of the investigations in to the reselling of the homes from the Mirror and the GMB in 2013; and Inside Housing magazine this month, along with a supporting article by the Independent. Other newspapers covered the Inside Housing story.

Read this article in the in the Mirror 5 March 2013 by Nick Sommerlad: “Great Tory housing shame: Third of ex-council homes now owned by rich landlords. The son of a former Tory Housing Minister and Mrs Thatcher aide during the peak years of right-to-buy owns at least 40 ex-council property.”

The GMB investigated Wandsworth in south London “Landlords Own 40% Ex Council Houses” (5 March 2013).

Inside Housing magazine 14 August 2015 “Revealed: 40% of ex-council flats now rented privately” and “Right to Buy to Let”

And here’s the Independent 14 August 2015 reporting the Inside Housing investigation “Right to Buy: 40% of homes sold under Government scheme are being let out privately”

Two tables produced by the government offer interesting data about house building and sales in Cornwall.

Table 253 gives the house completion data for Cornwall for 2014/15: 1880 dwellings, private enterprise and local authority and housing association, were completed and of those 400 were for housing associations, none for the council.

Table 685 shows that between 1979/80 and 2013/14 in Cornwall there were 10 275 right-to-buy sales.


1 Is it desirable to extend home ownership through discounted sales of council/housing association homes to sitting tenants

2 Is it possible and practical to enforce a one-for-one policy, one home sold, one new one built

3 If it isn’t, are the consequences, a net loss of council/association/affordable housing stock, acceptable

4 There is evidence of reselling and subletting: does this matter and, if so, why

5 How could resellling and subletting be prevented if such prevention is considered desirable,

6 Should right-to-buy be abolished

6 What should or can be done about the right-to-buy houses already resold