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Trade union wades into row over privately-let ex-council flats

The Right To Buy policy “has turned into a rich harvest for the greedy elite” according to a trades union.

The GMB says the same is about to happen with the properties acquired from housing associations under the extension to Right To Buy currently being considered by the House of Lords.

A GMB investigation of Land Registry records shows that in one London borough, Barnet, of 768 dwellings in council blocks where tenants acquired the leasehold under Right To Buy some 224 are now owned by private landlords who let them to private tenants. That is 29.2 per cent of the total sold by the council.

The union claims there are 12 private landlords who own more than one of these 224 dwellings. One private landlord owns nine while another two landlords each owns four properties. Another three landlords own three each, and a further six landlords own two each. 

GMB used the Land Registry to discover who the owners are in 60 blocks of flats in Barnet with a total number of units of 1,855. The search revealed that 768 are leasehold properties acquired by the tenants where the council is still the freehold owner. 

The union says the company that owns nine of the units is Countryside Properties (UK) Ltd, which is owned by Luxembourg based OCM Luxembourg Coppice Topco.

“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. To add insult to injury many are using offshore tax havens to avoid paying tax on these profits” claims Gary Doolan, GMB political officer.

A Countryside spokeswoman says: “Countryside is working with Barnet Council to regenerate the Dollis Valley estate. As part of the planning conditions set by Barnet Council, Countryside purchased a number of homes on the estate, which will be demolished to enable the construction of the new homes, 40 per cent of which will be affordable. The nine properties mentioned in the research are not being let out.”

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