Ending right to buy in Wales is a flawed strategy and will not solve the issue of a lack of social homes.
That’s the view of one of Wales’ most experienced property experts who says it’s the current tenure agreement policy that needs addressing above all else, as it is this which is locking people into restrictive and long term rental contracts leading to a stock blocking of social housing.
He also believes more needs to be done to free up new development across the country which will result in a rise of social and affordable property.
Right to buy has already been scrapped in a number of areas including Carmarthen and Swansea with the Welsh Government now planning on introducing a country wide ban.
But Mike Rees of Bruton Knowles argues that it would be better to free up more social housing stock by limiting the assured tenancy terms to a period of years, extended only on the basis that tenants continue meet the criteria for rent subsidy.
He also says that banning right to buy is a perverse strategy that stifles people’s ambition to own their own home, who would use this mechanism a way of getting onto the housing ladder.
“The intention behind the Government’s Affordable Housing Policy is to provide housing at subsidised rents for those unable to buy or rent property at market prices.
“The current system allows qualifying tenants the added right to buy their property, similar to the provisions for council housing stock, at a discount and to reflect previous rental payments.
“The housing minister’s point about protecting social housing for those that need it is a very valid point.
“But to remove the right to buy will mean that social housing tenants are then locked into an assured tenancy. This to all intents and purposes cannot be ended other than under very special circumstances and will therefore continue indefinitely at a subsidised rent linked to CPI/ RPI.
“This policy helps those on limited incomes, but if those incomes then rise because of career progression for example, they are still able to occupy that property and enjoy the rent subsidy.
“This ‘stock blocking’ of the system then denies those in real need and is where the focus needs to be in terms of freeing up properties for those who need it most.
“If people are not allowed to take ownership of the property in which they live, the management and upkeep of that property then falls back on tax payer.
“Ending right to buy seems to be more of a political argument so that councillors are seen to be doing something, but to really protect the intention of social housing stock, requires a wider and bolder review of the current assured tenancy rules.”