Barnet Council spends over £1 million a year renting back Right to Buy homes

Barnet Council spent £1,086,999 last year renting back homes sold under the Right to Buy according to the response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which shows that 44.3% of homes in the area, bought through the Right to Buy scheme, are now privately rented out.

According to the 2017 London Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), London needs 30,972 new low-cost rented homes every year. However, demand is continuing to outstrip supply, with just 7,905 low-cost rented homes having been built in the last five years.

As a consequence of this deficit, Barnet Council has been forced to rent back 79 properties formerly sold under the Right to Buy to use as temporary accommodation to meet the needs of local homeless families.

In 2012, the Government decided to ‘reinvigorate’ Right to Buy, increasing the discount on council homes to £75,000 across England. The following year the discount was increased to £100,000 in London. The Government promised one-for-one replacement, within three years, on any additional homes sold due to the increased discount. By March 2018 the Government were falling behind on this pledge. Nationally, since 2012, 17,072 additional replacements were required, but the number of homes started or acquired was below 16,000.

The Mayor of London has pledged to start 11,000 new council and Right to Buy replacement homes by 2022. He has also introduced a new ‘ring-fence offer’ for London councils to protect their Right to Buy receipts. But in order to meet need, some councils are renting or buying back homes they had previously sold under the Right to Buy.

Local London Assembly Member, Andrew Dismore AM, said:

“It simply isn’t right that so many homes, originally built for the public good and to be let out at social rents, are now in the hands of private landlords, some of whom have used the Right to Buy scheme to bloat their property portfolios.

“We are in a progressively desperate situation where our already cash-strapped council is having to pay big sums to rent back homes they were forced to sell at a discount under Government policy. Barnet have a lot of local families stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation or forced to pay sky-high rents in the private rented sector. It is time for the Council to deliver more new Council homes.”