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Graham Awards


Labour tones down Right To Buy proposal for private rental tenants

Labour’s controversial proposal to oblige landlords to sell their buy to let properties to tenants who wished to purchase them, unveiled in September, is being toned down.

Two months ago Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the Financial Times that under a future Labour government discounts could be made available to tenants - just like the old Thatcher Right To Buy policy for council house renters. 

That would allow purchases by private tenants to be made at below market value; the policy, at that time, was proposed to apply to all private tenants and landlords.


However, now McDonnell has told another paper - The Times - that he has re-thought the original proposal and it should apply only to the wealthiest landlords and not those who only own “one or two” rental properties. 

“There’s a large number of individuals or families who have bought another property as their asset for the future and we wouldn’t want to endanger that” he told The Times.

However, even this slightly watered down version presents dangers to the private rental sector and the country’s overall stock according to David Alexander, joint managing director of Apropos by DJ Alexander, a lettings platform.

He says: “The Labour Party appears to have shifted its original idea to allow all tenants the right to buy from their landlords to apply only to those with more than two properties. The shift appears to be aimed at placating individuals and families with smaller property investments and focusing on large scale investors.

“However, the policy of buying anyone’s property at a price decided by government rather than market value would instantly destabilise the whole housing market. Equally it is unclear how the government could guarantee that any tenant would be able to gain a mortgage on a property whose value has been decided arbitrarily. What would the real value of any property be if the government can intervene and price it on a whim?”


And he continues: “The target now is institutional and large-scale investors who will undoubtedly leave the marketplace in their droves if their investments can be undermined so easily. The property market requires long term confidence and certainty and these policies would immediately challenge this.

“Equally the policy of offering discounted homes for first-time buyers with mortgage payments kept to no more than a third of average local incomes is also difficult to apply. How much discount would be required in London or Edinburgh compared to Burnley or Middlesbrough? The variations would potentially create a two-tier housing market with enormous discounts (and consequent long-term gains) for those in the most expensive areas.”

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  • Paul Smithson

    I wouldn’t touch steptoe and McDonnell with a barge pole.


    I would but it would involve this post being deleted pdq.

    I have had far too much experience of working in the USSR. These two epitomise what is wrong with communist rule.

  • icon

    So having one leg cut off rather than both should make us feel better ? Trusting the admirers of Venezuelan economics and Cuban politics should strike fear into anyone who owns anything !

  • icon

    Sitting Tenants = Reduction in capital value of tenanted property.
    If labour bring back the 1970's housing strategy the sitting tenant will bit by bit return
    But hey not all bad perhaps Jeremy can bring back some classic T.V. … The Sweeney...'oy Jeremy shut it ! ' then slam side kick McDonnel across the bonnet of the police Granada....your nicked.

  • icon

    Another point is that someone in London may have a family home worth a million and a rental house worth a million. In contrast, in my area of South Wales a portfolio landlord might have a family home worth £250,000 and 35 rental houses valued at £50,000 each. Why should the former get to keep their 'wealth' and the latter have theirs stolen from them? I note, conveniently, that this shift in policy would mean Corbyn's and McDonnell's second homes would be 100% safe.
    Of course the main point though is that this would be theft - the state would turn into a gangster, stealing from one section of its citizens and giving to another.
    Also, this would just be the start. Once you establish the principle that the state can steal what it likes and then either keep the stolen property for the state to own or hand it over to the lucky few, everyone will have to watch out. You may be next.

    James Hurst

    I think the tenants should be allowed to have your house. Why should you have a better home than them? This is especially true if they haven’t paid their rent for three months and have smashed up the home they are “squatting” in.

  • icon

    Pure communism. All revolutions start this way. The usual follow on to stealing a house was to shoot the rightful owner for being a capitalist and thus not being able to use the supreme court to get it back again.

    Sorry to write politics here but this whole carry on, if it takes hold, will destroy the whole fabric of the UK.

  • James B

    I’ve told a number of tenants I’ll be selling up and issuing notices if labour get in.. surprising that they understand and would do the same themselves .. seems to me that the people they target for votes don’t even want them in


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