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Sunday, 12 January 2014
Private landlords have bought up half of the former council homes in some of London's poorest boroughs by exploiting Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme, an analysis reveals. Across the capital at least 36% of one-time council homes are now rented out privately but that proportion is even higher in some of the poorest areas where average private-sector rents, often paid by tenants on housing benefit, cost as much as £230 a week more than council rents. A report to be published tomorrow claims that the right-to-buy scheme is "possibly unrivalled" in providing poor value for money to both taxpayers and local authorities. The report, From Right to Buy to Buy to Let, recommends a review and calls for mandatory covenants on all right-to-buy properties so they cannot be let through the private sector. It says a new system should be introduced whereby local authorities retain an equity stake in any property sold. Councils should also have a "right not to sell" if they believe the sale of certain properties would harm their housing operation, or if they wish to retain sites, for example, key-worker housing. The Observer, Page: 16