Councils in the capital spending millions renting and buying back RTB homes

London’s local authorities are spending more than £22m a year renting back former council homes previously sold to their tenants under the Right to Buy, as Ministers are urged to drop the policy in the capital.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Tom Copley, Labour’s London Assembly housing spokesman, shows that at least 2,333 ex-council homes are being used to house homeless families with London councils picking up the tab for their rent from private landlords. Newham are the biggest known renter of such properties with 808.

Figures supplied to Copley by 18 of the 33 councils across London showed the combined rent paid out on these properties was £22.3m. Copley wants the London Mayor to lobby the Government to have the RTB abolished in the capital, or at the very least to have newly built council homes exempt from it.

London’s local authorities are also buying back ex-council properties either for re-letting or to help deliver regeneration schemes. Ealing Council has bought back 516 homes mainly for regeneration projects, at a cost of £107m. This is more than six times the £16.2m the council received from the original sales.

Copley says that since 1998/99 some 102,480 council homes have been sold in London and only 3,000 new ones built in their place. At least 54,000 ex-council homes have been sold by the original purchasers and are now being rented out by private landlords across the capital. In Westminster, Harrow and Enfield more than 50 per cent of ex-RTB properties are now owned by private landlords.

“Something has gone very wrong when tens of thousands of homes built to be let at social rents for the public good are now being rented out at market rates for private profit, sometimes back to the very councils that were forced to sell them,” Mr Copley said.

By Patrick Mooney, editor