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Welsh Government to Abolish Right to Buy

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This article has been submitted by Slater & Gordon.

On 13 March 2017 the Welsh Government introduced a bill which, if passed, could bring to an end the right to buy, which enables tenants of social housing in Wales to purchase their homes at a discount.

The ‘Right to Buy’ for local authority tenants was extended in 1997 by the ‘Right to Acquire’ legislation to include Housing Association tenants as well. This has resulted in a 45% reduction in the availability of social housing in Wales.

As a consequence, extreme pressure has been placed on social housing in Wales, with over 10,000 people on the waiting list for housing in Cardiff alone. The Welsh Government aims to combat the issue by building 200,000 affordable homes by 2021, as well as maintaining the current social housing stock through the proposed abolition of the right to buy.

Typical residential brick houses in Cardiff, Wales

If passed, the law will allow for an initial 12 month moratorium, during which social tenants will be able to exercise the right to purchase their home with an £8,000 discount, reduced from £16,000 in 2015. For new build homes, however, the moratorium will last only 2 months.

Whilst local authorities and housing associations are likely to face a rush of applications to exercise the right to buy within the 12 month period, the Welsh Government has laid out the measure to ensure compliance with Human Rights law.

At this early stage it remains unclear as to whether or not a challenge to this law may be brought by the affected parties, but the Supreme Court has previously stated that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a private and family life, does not provide for a right to housing. This means that any challenge is likely to fail and, in allowing the moratorium on the abolition of the right to buy, the Welsh Government is acting cautiously to avoid any challenges to the legislation.

If you or your organisation are experiencing difficulties surrounding this intended legislation, please feel free to contact a member of our experienced property litigation team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in our Cardiff office on 0292 192 1818 or contact us online.