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'Utterly ludicrous': Council spending £500,000 renting back homes flogged off under right to buy

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'Utterly ludicrous': Council spending £500,000 renting back homes flogged off under right to buy

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing

'Utterly ludicrous': Council spending 500,000 renting back homes flogged off under right to buy 'Utterly ludicrous': Council spending 500,000 renting back homes flogged off under right to buy

Image: Housing via Shutterstock

Harrow Council is paying nearly £500,000 a year renting back homes it used to own – a situation denounced as “utterly ludicrous” by the borough’s housing chief.

The council has revealed it is leasing 35 properties sold under the right to buy (RTB) scheme, with landlords being paid up to £350 a week for a four-bed property.

It means that Harrow people are effectively paying hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to put tenants into houses the authority was forced to sell.

Cllr Glen Hearnden, the council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “It is an expensive irony that the much-lauded right to buy has ended up as a financial straight jacket for Harrow residents. It really does not make sense to pay huge amounts of money to private landlords for houses we used to own.

Cllr Hearden has lamented that Harrow hasn't built a council house for the past 23 years, which he says has further intensified pressure on its housing stock.

with the London rental market "going through the roof", cllr Hearden says that the local authority is trying to put right a quarter of a century of stagnation.

He said: ”We lose twice with the government scheme, we lose the property from our stock and then we pay to rent it back. It all adds up to our residents suffering. It feels like we are fighting the fires caused by an overheating housing market whilst the government is stood on our hose pipe."

"If residents wish to buy a home we have a very good scheme to help them, the council has developed a Grants to Move scheme to help council tenants move into home ownership."

The council’s 'Homes for Harrow' plan, which went before the cabinet in July, has at its heart the redevelopment of the Grange Farm estate, which will see the replacement of 240 ageing homes with around 430 new properties, together with a rebuilt community centre.

Homes for Harrow also outlines plans to build new homes in 'infill' sites – small plots of land the authority owns on existing estates.

Around 13 locations have been assessed for properties, which will be a mix of affordable rent or shared ownership properties ranging from one-bed flats to four-bed houses.
The authority will set aside up to £8.5 million from the housing revenue account and use other funds alongside money provided from bidding for government funding to pay for the new programme.

The local authority is additionally using empty properties on estates to relieve pressure on those placed in temporary accommodation – often B&Bs – while longer term housing is sought.

Former software engineer Parvaiz Akhtar spent three months in B&Bs before the council found him an empty one-bed flat at Grange Farm.

Mr Akthtar, 60, said: “This flat is far nicer than a B&B, you have your own sitting room and kitchen and there is less noise. It makes absolute sense for the council to use its own properties to help those in emergency accommodation rather than paying out to landlords.”

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