A NEW scheme which could enable thousands of tenants to buy their home at a discount has been welcomed by Solihull MP Julian Knight.
The voluntary Right to Buy pilot will be rolled out in the West Midlands by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG).
The new discount for housing association tenants will be subsidised by the government with a £200million fund.
Using the money generated from sales, the scheme pledges to replace each property sold with a new ‘affordable’ home.
Council housing tenants already have the right to purchase the properties they rent at discounted rates and this will now extend to housing association tenants.
Housing associations offer similar types of housing as local councils – often to people on a low income or who need extra support.
Mr Knight said: “I’m very glad the government has decided to test this new scheme in the West Midlands, bringing the realistic chance of home ownership within reach of thousands’ of housing association tenants across the region.
“By taking care to ensure that associations are able to replenish their housing stock to balance sales, this up-to-date version of Right to Buy aims both to give tenants the power to own their own home whilst ensuring there is always enough supported housing for those who need it.”
The scheme’s detractors have argued government money should be spent on building affordable housing and not allowing buyers to take more accessible housing stock off the market.
Critics have said the scheme could worsen the ‘housing crisis’.
Mt Knight said the goal of the pilot is to test how Right to Buy works for tenants from housing associations which provide council housing.
Buyers will receive the same discount as applied to council houses under the statutory Right to Buy scheme, but associations will have discretion over which properties they sell.
Where a property is excluded from the pilot the tenant will be offered the chance to buy another housing association property with the same discount – this ‘portable discount’ is a new feature and will be tested throughout the pilot.
The pilot also aims to test whether housing associations are able to replace sold properties on a one-for-one basis, ensuring that spreading home ownership does not undermine the sustainable future of supported housing, Mr Knight says.
The government says around 80,000 council households have taken up the option to purchase their properties since Right to Buy was revamped by the Coalition in 2012.