Wandsworth right-to-buy homes in 'exploited' by rich landlords, says GMB trade union
Homes built to house the needy are being “massively exploited” by rich private landlords, according to figures from union GMB.
Of the 15,874 council properties in Wandsworth sold under the Right to Buy scheme pioneered under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, at least 6,180 are privately-owned and rented out to private tenants.
This means private landlords own more than 40 per cent of council houses acquired under the scheme.
GMB, which has more than 600,000 members, also found that 977 private landlords own more than one of these dwellings.
Chelsea Estates Limited, based in Farnham, Surrey, owns 66 properties, Palmyra Properties Limited, registered in Jersey, owns 46, and Esher-based property tycoon Charles Gow and his wife Karin, own 40.
Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, described the scheme as a “charter for the exploitation of our social housing for private profit”.
He said: “This investigation lays bare the harsh reality of the exploitation of our social housing stock.
"It shows private businesses making vast profits from the public purse while the people these homes were built for sit on waiting lists that never move.
“While tens of thousands of ordinary London families are unable to find council house to rent rich farmers and the elite are scooping them up by the tractor load.”
Right to Buy was designed to help social tenants in England buy their council home at a discount.
The figures seem to make a mockery of the mission statement on the official Right to Buy website, which states: "Your home could be an asset and an investment for years to come, for you and your family, giving you the security that home ownership can bring.”
Between 1982-87 one million homes were sold under the scheme but it took another 25 years for that figure to reach two million, according to the same website Rules were changed in 2005 meaning five years’ tenancy was required for new tenants to qualify.
A Wandsworth Council spokesman said: “Right to Buy has helped tens of thousands of low income families up and down the country get a foot on the property ladder and improve their lives.
"It has also helped regenerate thousands of inner city estates by securing more mixed and balanced communities.
“And if these aspirational homeowners do take that next step up the property ladder, these homes do not cease to exist and do not cease being affordable.
"They are either sold on or rented to other families in need of affordable, low-cost housing.”