Ever since Margaret Thatcher declared her belief in a ‘property-owning democracy’ and introduced Right to Buy in 1980, the UK was converted into a country that saw houses as something to make money from, not just to live in, as illustrated by the buy-to-let boom of recent years that has fed the stereotype that Brits are obsessed with property.
But very few people predicted that so many homes acquired under the Right to Buy programme would now be owned by private landlords, especially in London.
A report by Labour London Assembly Member Tom Copley found 42 % of homes sold by local authorities under the scheme are now being rented out privately, with tenants now paying more than twice as much as when the homes were owned by local authorities.
Copley said: “Something has gone very wrong when tens of thousands of homes built to be let at social rents for the public good are now being rented out at market rates for private profit, sometimes back to the very councils that were forced to sell them.
“The Right to Buy is failing London and should be abolished.”
The report also showed 466 individuals or companies have the lease for at least five Right to Buy homes each.
The government’s commitment to build a replacement for every social rented home sold through the Right to Buy scheme is currently not being fulfilled and nor should it be if they are going to be simply sold off, according to Copley.
He has called on the government to exempt newly built council homes from Right to Buy and create legislation which prevents Right to Buy homes being let on the private market.
He added: “Many councils are building new council homes again for the first time in a generation. But we risk treading water or even going backwards if we continue to lose precious existing homes to Right to Buy.
“At a time when the need for homes at social rent level far outweighs the numbers being built, it’s reckless to continue to force the discounted sale of council homes.”