By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Graham Awards


New plan to buy back council houses, then re-let them

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to buy back former council houses now in the private rental sector.

Right to Buy, part of the 1980 Housing Act, gave council tenants who had lived in their house for more than three years the chance to buy their property at a price substantially below market rate. Since the Act’s introduction more than 300,000 London council homes have been sold.

While the number of Right to Buy sales has been declining in recent years, Khan claims the policy continues to have a negative impact on the overall number of council homes in London. 


He say it also doesn’t appear to be fulfilling its original mandate of boosting owner occupation, with four in 10 now rented on the private market – sometimes back to the very council that was forced to sell the home in order to house homeless families.

The Mayor’s Right to Buy-back scheme will make money available to help councils and council-owned housing companies acquire homes that will then be let at social rent levels or used as accommodation for homeless families. 

All homes purchased through this scheme must meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard. 

With more small landlords selling or planning to sell their properties due to changes in tax laws, the Mayor believes it would be far better for these homes to be sold back to the council than to larger private landlords.

Khan insists that over the last 40 years councils have lost both the funding and expertise they require to build more council homes.


Khan himself says: “For more than 40 years, London’s precious council homes have been disappearing into the private sector, often never to be replaced. It’s time for that to change.

“We’re not only helping councils to build thousands of new council homes, but we’re giving them the resources to buy back former council homes through our Right to Buy-back scheme. In the midst of a housing affordability crisis it feels grossly unfair and unjust that more than four in ten council homes sold through the Right to Buy in London are now in the hands of private landlords. These were, after all, homes built for the public good.

“I am proud that we have brought council homebuilding back up to levels not seen since the 1980s and I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm I see from boroughs across London for building new council homes. Fixing the housing crisis is going to take time, but this new Right to Buy-back scheme is an innovative new tool that will help to take another step in the right direction.”

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

  • Mark Wilson

    Buying back property, which in many cases is sub standard sounds like a solid commercial plan.


    Since when did councils make '' solid commercial plans'' prime example being Norwich City Council, they are the joke of the country.

  • icon

    Finally some sensible ideas. Buy back ex council housing and why not build MORE COUNCIL housing instead of continuously targeting landlords.

  • icon

    But at what cost and will present owners be forced to sell to councils?
    Will the buy back be at market levels?
    Will it be more costly than converting unused office space into flats?
    As for housing the homeless, many do not want permanent accomodation and would not, in any case, keep property in good order.


    Present owners are unlikely to sell at below market value to a council, it would make more sense to put the property into an auction.
    Converting office space into flats ? but we don't need flats we need houses.
    As for housing the homeless, you've nailed it there Grace, as the saying goes '' you can lead a horse to water, you cannot make it drink'', the homeless are homeless for a reason, generally of their own doing.

  • Franklin I

    It maybe cheaper in the long term for the government to make a better proposal to portfolio LL's who offer a minimum of 5 properties as a 5 year leaseback deal to the government.

    These tenants, will then be able to let at social rent levels or allow the properties to be used as accommodation for homeless families. 

    A proposal such as this, would have to benefit all LL's financially in terms of Landlord's Licensing, Tax relief, EICR Certificates, EPC Certificates, Changes to private residence relief in the event a LL decided to sell part of a portfolio in comparison to any deal a LL currently has on the table today. In short, their must be tax incentives applied for a LL in order for this to work, so that it can benefit all sides, Tenant's housing, government's budget/targets and LL's pocket!


    Yes leaseback on commercial terms to council. Handback in 5 yrs in same condition. All certs licencing they can pay

  • icon

    If LL's are forced to sell to the council are the government going to lower the CGT for us?

  • George Dawes

    In a few years they’ll be buying your property whether you want to sell or not …

    Dark times ahead , glad I’m the age I am , hopefully be gone before the proverbial hits the fan

  • icon
    • 15 July 2021 10:01 AM

    He sounds like a little dictator.

  • icon

    The Scheme to sell to long term Council tenants to buy their house was an admirable scheme. Problem is that people are not admirable and a lot of ex-council owners sold up and spent the money, not all but quite a few. Certainly enough for a programme to be made about it.
    The idea was that the money generated would build more social housing.
    In my view the Government need to re-think social housing and not allow 3 bed houses to remain in single occupation. They have discount rent, and quite rightly so, however there needs to be conditions.
    A lot of Council houses have very large gardens. Knocking a house down to give access to build a row of houses in these gardens would be a cost effective way of increasing social housing without breaking the bank. If they made some of them maisonettes or no more than 3 storey flats with small gardens it would enable locals to have a choice to move but be in the same area. Sensible lateral thinking and long term practical planning are key. Not sure that Councils understand this concept as they just seem to look at short term goals and whether they have complied to the latest self interest rules on how to behave in modern Britain.
    It will change for the better one day and having lived overseas i can honestly say that we aren't doing too bad here.

  • icon

    When the right to buy first took off there were double glazing sales men and loan sharks touring council estates getting the new mortgaged owners to max their borrowings against their properties, new windows, doors, conservatories , horrible extensions were sold, then the new BMW appeared in the drive, all paid for with their new 25 yr mortgages, of course many of these people were soon bankrupt and back in rented properties, so the lenders put the properties in auctions and landlords bought them

  • icon

    Andrew - this is EXACTLY what happened and no one knows or wants to know. These properties were sold to council tenants at vast discounts. They were sold sub prime mortgages (higher commissions) to service them which had punitive charges. They then took out secured loans to buy cars, holidays, caravans clothes etc and couldn’t afford the payments. They then either gave the keys back to mortgage co or sold for what was owing. Guess what these people are doing today RENTING and getting housing benefit. The hidden and real story because they couldn’t manage responsibility

  • icon

    George Dawes is right in his comments above. Government ownership of all property (land and housing) is all part of UN Agenda 21, fully supported by the World Economic Forum and its billionaire members. What a lot of people think is just conspiracy theory is happening to us right now. It's worth a bit of research and you won't like what you find. It's creeping up on us slowly but surely. Bill Gates is alledgedly now the biggest agricultural land owner in the US.


    Well that could be likely but some way off, something for the next generation of landlords to worry about, I will be 68 in August, so I suspect I will be long gone by then.

  • icon

    In most areas building a house is far cheaper than buying or even bringing old house is up to standard . Local authorities hold a lot of land that could be built on and there is so much brownfield sites that could be developed if the planning rules were relaxed.

    If we could build Nightingale hospitals tanks of spitfires join the Second World War we could create enough housing. It is not a shortage of housing that's the problem it's the will to solve it


    We have the ex Norwich City Council works dept in Norwich, it's a huge area, they cleared it yrs ago right beside a large council est, and there it sits empty doing nothing, yet they are desperately short of social housing


    A clearer comment would be appreciated.
    'tanks of spitfires join the second world war'?

  • icon

    Its the unlimited legal and illegal immigration that,s the problem.

  • icon

    Only 79 LL’s signed up to Ombudsman Scheme about Tenants complaints out of 2.6m LL’s. (even the ridiculous low fee didn’t turn anyone on). Do they not get the message we are sick of their anti-landlords rules and don’t have us on board. So they have 65 employees to operate the Scheme for 79 LL’s, I wonder if they’ll manage ?.

  • icon

    Am I missing something? Why focus on buying back dilapidated London housing when there are millions of empty homes around the country some empty for more than 20 years?
    Surely, it'd make more sense and be cheaper to confiscate these! London is far too overcrowded anyway so it'd be good to relocate social housing tenants across Britain.


    Just don't send them to Norfolk, we had the '' London over spill '' come to Thetford in the 60s, massive council estate built for them which has wrecked Thetford as a market town .


Please login to comment

MovePal MovePal MovePal
sign up