Right to buy could end for social housing tenants

29 June 2012

The Scottish Government has begun a public consultation on the future of the right to buy for social housing tenants in Scotland.

Currently, tenants who have what is known as a ‘secure tenancy’ -  whose  landlord is a local authority or housing association -  have the ‘preserved’ right to buy if they have been tenants before 30 September 2002. This means that in certain circumstances they can benefit from a discount of up to 70% of the value of a flat or 60% of the value of a house if they wish to buy. Inksters Scots Property has already reported on changes introduced by the Scottish Government that now apply to new tenants. Any person taking up a tenancy from 1 March 2011 has no right to buy; this was one measure put in place by the Scottish Government to ensure a sustained supply of social housing to meet increasing demand.
Whilst the current system allows many to realise home ownership at massively discounted rates, the inevitable result is that social housing stock is reduced.  According to the Scottish Government, around 207,000 tenants across the local authority and housing association sectors still have the preserved right to buy.
This consultation seeks views on moving preserved right to buy tenants onto what is known as the ‘modernised’ right to buy scheme, where the maximum discount is 35% or £15,000, whichever is greater. Those who have the modernised right to buy will have commenced their tenancy after 30 September 2002 and before 1 March 2011. Another more radical proposal is removing the right to buy for all tenants, regardless of when their tenancy commenced. Any reforms would form part of the next Housing (Scotland) Bill and changes would be delayed to allow those who currently have the right to buy a period of time to do so if they wished to.
In a previous report, it was stated that the 70% discounts currently afforded under the ‘preserved’ scheme are ‘unjustifiable’. The report stated that “They leave social landlords out of pocket, leading to pressures on rents for remaining tenants and an eroded asset base.” Whilst the Scottish Government argue there is unfairness in some benefitting from a much greater discount than others, those who have rented for a long period may argue they have earned the right to purchase their home.
The consultation seeks views on a number of points, including whether the public think that restrictions on the right to buy are needed, whether those with the preserved right should be moved to the modernised scheme, or if right to buy should be abolished altogether. The consultation runs until 30 August 2012. You can access the consultation here.
If you wish to purchase your home that you rent from a local authority or housing association, Inksters can guide you through the process. Contact Brian Inkster or Louise King by email or call us on 0141 229 0880.

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