Big rise in ‘right to buy’ house purchases in Sunderland

Former Sunderland Council homes on Primate Road, Plains Farm.
Former Sunderland Council homes on Primate Road, Plains Farm.
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THE number of families exercising their right to buy their rented social home rocketed in the last 12 months.

There were 92 successful applications to Gentoo in 2012/13, up by almost six times from 16 in the year prior.

In 2010/11, there were only 14 homes bought from the housing association.

Bosses say the sharp increase is down to increased discounts introduced by the Coalition Government last year, designed to reinvigorate the right to buy scheme.

But they warned housing supplies could be stretched if the trend continued.

“The sharp rise in Right to Buy purchases is due to the increase in discounts introduced by the Government in April 2012,” said Ian Porter, managing director of gentoo.

“We would advise all customers to consider the responsibilities and costs that come with home ownership, particularly in the current climate.

“It will be difficult to maintain the levels of rented housing stock should this trend continue, as the reduced finance received from any Right to Buy sale will not offer a one-for-one replacement of social housing stock.

“Any replacements will involve higher rent levels under the recently-introduced affordable rent regime for newly-built homes.”

Leader of the Conservative group in Sunderland City Council, Robert Oliver, said he was pleased to see the number buying their homes on the rise.

“In the 1980s, the Right to Buy scheme helped thousands of families living in council housing in Sunderland to achieve their dream of owning their own home, and I welcome the reinvigoration of the scheme. The Right to Buy allowed people to improve their homes, without getting permission from the council, and gave them a sense of ownership and an investment which they could pass on to their children.

“Unfortunately, over time, the discounts were cut, failing to keep pace with the rise in property prices, and this vital rung on the property ladder was all but removed as applications ground to a halt.

“With discount rates increased from a maximum of £22,000 to a maximum of £75,000, more people in Sunderland will now be able to buy their homes, as is clear in the figures released which reveal a sharp increase since 2010.

“It is essential that other initiatives, such as the new one-for-one replacement scheme, are also successful so that an adequate social housing stock is maintained in the city as more and more tenants purchase their homes.”

“Along with the NewBuy scheme, which helps people to obtain a mortgage with a five per cent deposit the reinvigoration of the Right to Buy is one of a package of measures to help make housing affordable.”