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The Right to Buy scheme – a ‘great opportunity for those lucky enough to be in the right house at the right time’?

The Right to Buy scheme offers a discounted solution for individuals who, currently residing in a Housing Association property, wish to purchase the property. There is criterion in place to adhere to in order to qualify for such a scheme as well as a number of further stipulations in relation to selling the property after purchase. The latter they enforce as to lessen the chances of the scheme being abused - one method of which is by some/all of the total discount being made payable if they are selling within 5 years of a Right to Buy purchase.

The subject of this scheme has much been debated since Margaret Thatcher initiated it as her flagship policy back in 1980 - but it is even more so now in the midst of the 2015 election. With the Conservatives particularly focusing on reviving this policy, it is receiving a mixed reception. While many are speculating that the Conservatives have now replaced Labour as the party of the ‘working people’, some are still very much opposed to the concept of the scheme.

Housing activists have said that by extending the existing policy to 1.3 million Housing Association tenants, it will “only make matters worse”. It is recorded that since David Cameron began putting life back into this policy, 26,000 council homes have been sold and only 3,000 have been built across the country. It is a classic supply and demand issue and with our ever-increasing population, this can surely only exacerbate.

Peter Roach, Chief Executive of Bournville Village Trust, has said: "We understand people's home ownership aspirations, but the concept of giving huge amounts of taxpayers' money to provide discounts for people already enjoying the comfort of good quality affordable homes whilst at the same time watching waiting lists soar is unfair and shameful”.

Is this a fair statement? While I am all for aiding people who have poor credit and am only too aware of how difficult mortgages can be to acquire, what about everyone else? Imagine the couple working hard in averagely paid jobs, not able to afford a mortgage while shelling out for (unnecessarily high) rent, or the single professional renting a flat but trying to save for a house. They may not be suffering the financial hardship that makes somebody qualify for social housing, but it does raise a few questions which no doubt Roach is referring to.

Will this scheme slowly diminish the supply of social housing? Following a surge of interest and consequent use of the scheme, Cameron has insisted cash will be injected into new house-building (this was also promised back in the 1980s but failed to materialise). However, if this cash is not focused on social housing and instead ‘affordable’ housing, the demand will increase two-fold.

With this scheme, the discount continues to go up each year of ownership (a flat being higher than a house). If Conservatives are voted in or another party decide to continue perpetuating this scheme, would it be beneficial to instil some kind of payback scheme? This could mean that maybe after a couple of years of owning the property; the owner could begin paying some of the discount back. This could make the scheme a lot fairer (for people who believe otherwise) as well as helping the council reimburse even a small percentage of what they have essentially lost.

Despite all the speculation, the increased availability and subsequent popularity of this scheme entirely depends on what party is voted in. If you are interested, click firmly with intent on this link to the Government website and see if you are eligible.

If you would like to discuss any of the above and the processes involved in acquiring a property – whether under the scheme or not – please contact us today. Ring us, email us or come in and see us!

023 8064 4822


Posted in: Property

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