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Only one in three Scottish Right to Buy properties replaced

  • 15/12/2015
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Only one in three Scottish Right to Buy properties replaced
Only one in three properties sold in Scotland under the Right to Buy scheme can be replaced by housing associations, the Communities and Local Government Committee was told yesterday.

Right to buy homes were mostly replaced in the same area, however, most of the properties sold were cottage- style properties, most likely replaced with flats, said Dr Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA).

Northern Ireland is also facing severe difficulty in replacing stock.

Most properties in the country are eligible for purchase under the scheme, with the exception of sheltered housing, grouped and supported housing and two bedroom bungalows.

The country has lost a lot of purpose-built accommodation which is very difficult to replace said Eileen Patterson, board member of the Chartered Institute of Housing Northern Ireland (CIHNI) and director of housing services for Fold Housing Association.

Not being able to replace stock was one of the main reasons almost 90% of the Chartered Institute of Housing Northern Ireland’s members felt the Right to Buy scheme should be scrapped or reviewed. Only 11% said the scheme should continue in its current form, said CIHNI director, Nicola McCrudden.

Some 60% said they had not been able to fully replace the number of homes they had lost through the scheme, a figure that was evenly split between those who were able to replace half of the homes, and those able to replace less.

Patterson said a lot of tenants exercised their Right to Buy only to move on and up the housing ladder, leaving many of the units in the private rented sector. She added that it can take up to 10 years for the housing association to be able to buy back the stock.

And while Northern Ireland has a clause stating any Right to Buy owner who wishes to resell within a decade has to offer properties back to the housing association first, it will still face major financial loss as it will have to buy back the property it sold at a discount at full market value.

Dr Taylor added that Scotland has abolished a policy from some 40 years ago that has lost almost 500,000 houses to the socially rented sector. A portion of them have ended up in the private rental sector – with some units costing rents of up to 50% more than social rents, she said.

She added that not only has this impacted the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ ability to manage the asset as social landlords – it has also constrained access for aspiring tenants and those who need to move.

Dr Taylor said the association is not opposed to homeownership, but added: “It’s when stock which is needed in the social sector is lost to another sector and may end up in the private sector at a higher cost that we see it as uneconomic and undesirable.”

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