Advertisement

Right to buy: why not extend it to private landlords too?

If housing associations have to sell their properties at a discount under ludicrous ‘right to buy’ legislation, why shouldn’t all private landlords be forced sell up on the cheap?

150601-buy-to-let
Will buy-to-let investors have another thing to worry about with right to buy?

Just before the election, I wrote that extending the right to buy' to the housing association sector was the worst policy of the campaign. I added that, given the dismal policies being suggested elsewhere, that was really saying something.

With the election won, I assumed the Conservatives would quietly ditch the idea and get on with finding a way to bring house prices down, rather than coming up with more ways to prop them up.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Sadly, it isn't so.

The Tories appear determined to press ahead with the policy despite the warnings from almost everyone that it will do nothing to raise the supply of homes and everything to create a "buy-to-let bonanza" for those who get to buy their houses at a discount. It will, as Rowan Moore puts it in the Guardian, "segregate cities, fuel house price inflation and increase the number of homes that are used as units of speculation".

It will also do something worse make all tenants feel hard done by. When I wrote about this before the election, I pointed out that if it makes sense to force the housing associations (who are private, not state landlords) to sell at a discount, why does it not make sense to force all private landlords sell up on the cheap?

"If I was a buy-to-let investor letting to anyone getting Housing Benefit, I might start worrying about how long it is until I am forced to rent to them at a discount to the market price,"Iwrote at the time.

Thatconversationhas begun. A letter in the FT today from a Mr Peter Cave puts the case: "If propertyownershipmerits such high priority," he says, "why doesthegovernment not grant a right to buy against all those who have 'bought to let?'"

The private tenants of buy-to-let investors have "littlesecurityof tenure, littlecontrolover rent increases andhaveno share oftheproperty value.If we must think in terms of property ownership then if anyone deserves the right to buy at a discount it is those tenantsor at the very least they deserve the righttoshare in the property's increase in value. What is sauce for the tenant gooseshould also be sauce fortheprivate tenant gander."

Something new for buy-to-let investors who have stoppedworryingaboutrent controls, rising interest rates and second home taxes to think about. Or perhapsto petitionthegovernment on.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/516758/beyond-the-brexit-talk-the-british-economy-isnt-doing-too-badly
Economy

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601589/boris-johnsons-grand-infrastructure-plan-needs-some-small-print
UK Economy

Boris Johnson’s grand infrastructure plan needs some small print

Grand infrastructure projects are all very well, but it is the small stuff that delivers the big returns, says Matthew Lynn.
5 Jul 2020
Visit/economy/uk-economy/601605/spend-spend-spend-think-of-it-as-your-patriotic-duty
UK Economy

Spend, spend, spend – think of it as your patriotic duty

After months of lockdown, many of us will have some money to spare. If you do, says Merryn Somerset Webb, spend it.
2 Jul 2020
Visit/investments/property/601606/house-prices-crash-uk-property-prices-falling-where-next
Property

House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020

Most Popular

Visit/investments/property/601606/house-prices-crash-uk-property-prices-falling-where-next
Property

House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020
Visit/economy/inflation/601584/the-end-of-the-bond-bull-market-and-the-return-of-inflation
Inflation

The end of the bond bull market and the return of inflation

Central bank stimulus, surging post-lockdown demand and the end of the 40-year bond bull market. It all points to inflation, says John Stepek. Here’s …
30 Jun 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601611/nasdaq-all-time-high-markets-and-the-real-economy
Stockmarkets

How can markets hit new record highs when the economy is in such a mess?

Despite the world being in the midst of a global pandemic, America's Nasdaq stock index just hit an all-time high. And it's not the only index on a bu…
3 Jul 2020