Government bypasses landlords to increase Right-to-Buy sales
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
Government bypasses landlords to communicate Right to Buy
The Government has sent letters to more than 213,000 council and housing association tenants in London encouraging them to exercise the Right-to-Buy (RTB) their homes.
The Government says it is determined that tenants who are eligible and are able to afford it should be made aware of the significantly increased discount of up to £75,000.
The parliamentary under-secretary of state for the communities and local government department, Baroness Hanham, said landlords have a "statutory duty" to inform their tenants about the changes but that the department's research on previous changes to the scheme “suggested that only a third of tenants were aware of those changes”.
She said: “It would be unfair if some tenants were not able to exercise their legal right to buy because of local councils keeping them in the dark and failing to promote the reinvigorated scheme.”
Quizzed in the House of Lords yesterday about how many councils and housing association tenants in each London borough had been sent letters, Baroness Hanham produced figures by postcode area to show that 213,005 tenants had been contacted directly by the Government.
She said: “In order to protect tenants' personal data, the department was rightly not able to use personal address data supplied by local authorities and housing associations to mail tenants directly. The contractor therefore used other database information to help target potential eligible tenants, as is the norm for direct mail marketing.”
The data shows that the highest number of tenants contacted lived in the South East of London where some 37,410 residents had been sent letters. In West London, 31,612 tenants had been sent letters.
At the Conservative Party conference, communities secretary Eric Pickles said some Labour councils had been keeping tenants in the dark over Right-to-Buy.
He said: "Sadly, many Labour councils are keeping their tenants in the dark about these new extended rights. Their council leaders have pledged to fight tooth and nail against the Right-to-Buy.
"A right can only be exercised if you know about it. So I can pledge my department will be talking direct to tenants to inform them of their Right-to-Buy. It's a great policy to campaign on for May's local elections. We should tell every tenant in every council estate - that we're on their side."
The housing minister Mark Prisk revealed in September the Government had spent £660,000 promoting the reinvigorated Right-to-Buy scheme.