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It’s War: Tories and lettings chiefs tear into Labour Right To Buy plans

There’s been a fierce outcry from Conservative MPs and the lettings industry in response to Labour’s threat to give private rental tenants the right to buy their properties - even if the landlords did not want to sell.

The proposal, put forward yesterday by Chancellor John McDonnell, would mean that 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. 

Conservative MPs have led the political attack on the proposals.


Michael Fabricant MP says: “McDonnell has promised he would overturn the mixed-economy capitalist system if he came to power. This manoeuvre is just the start. It would decimate the rental market in the UK, creating a shortage of properties available to rent.”

Fellow Tory MP Andrew Bridgen adds: “This is a frightening insight into what it would be like if this man ever became Chancellor of the Exchequer. These policies would destroy the private rental market as well as crash the entire housing market. It would also lead to a rise in homelessness, which Labour claims to be against.”

Meanwhile from the industry, David Smith - policy director at the Residential Landlords Association - says: “Labour’s proposal would effectively kill off a large part of the private rented sector denying a home to many thousands of people. If there was to be any chance of this becoming law, there would be a mass sell-off of properties in advance. The RLA is all in favour of landlords selling to sitting tenants but it must be entirely voluntary. Anything else amounts to a form of compulsory purchase.”

And David Alexander, joint managing director of property management firm Apropos, refers to this as a “cash grab” which would prompt a rental market collapse. 

“Lenders would be unlikely to provide loans to fund the purchase of these properties as values would be in freefall. Why would anyone invest in property either as a landlord or as an individual if the value of the sale price could be anything the government wished to pay and, in the case of individual homeowners, if any gains above £125,000 are to be taxed at the highest rate of income tax.”

He continues: “This proposal hits at one of the fundamental tenets of society in the UK that people want to own property and be sure that the value of their investment and hard work is not going to undermine at the whim of government policy. This right to buy scheme would permanently undermine the confidence of individuals and investors in property and cause serious and substantial financial losses for millions of homeowners across the UK.” 

The row has blown up following an interview with yesterday’s Financial Times in which John McDonnell says: “You’d want to establish what is a reasonable price, you can establish that and then that becomes the right to buy ... You (the government) set the criteria. I don’t think it’s complicated.”

He continues: “We've got a large number of landlords who are not maintaining these properties and are causing overcrowding and these problems.” 

McDonnell says the plan would deter landlords refusing to invest in their properties while making what he calls a “fast buck” at the cost of their tenants and the community.

  • icon

    What a ridiculous notion that a party that seems determined to drag us back 50 years and whose housing policies are as absurd as the notion that we could end up with Corbyn as PM and McDonnell as Chancellor, is cranking up its pre-election lies to grab as many votes from us idiots who voted these self-serving politicians (from all sides) into power in the first place! Careful what you wish for UK!

  • Simon Shinerock

    Thank goodness he’s not actually ‘The Chancellor’ and hopefully he never will be. However, if he does become Chancellor his mission will be to deconstruct the system and establish a communist autocracy in order to fulfil his childhood dream of getting back at everyone who ever did better than him

  • icon

    Properties which are not being maintained by landlords is a completely different matter from giving sitting tenants the RTB. There is no logic in this proposal whatsoever...surprise, surprise.
    Do you honestly think tenants who are in poor condition properties are going to buy the house then suddenly fit new kitchen and bathrooms..with what££. Free cash from Corby ?


    Exactly right. Yes, of course there are landlords that don't maintain their properties as they should, but to respond with THIS proposal as the supposed answer is like cracking open a walnut with a sledgehammer. Problem - landlord shirking his duties regarding maintenance. Labour solution - force landlord to sell the property to the tenant at a discount. Utterly ridiculous.

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Government have already gone too far by the right to compulsory purchase dilapidated Unoccupied properties, but McDonnell's proposal is off the scale and would destroy the UK's financial system virtually overnight.
    GB Pound would be worth half a Euro and most people buying the properties wouldn't be Tenants, but Europeans. Even more so than they are at present. !

  • icon

    This us the same guy who proposed this..is the economy not in a bad enough state!

    “In early September, he made a splash with a radical scheme that would require companies to earmark part of their profits to purchase a chunk of their own shares for their workforce.”

  • James B

    Nothing other than desperate vote campaigning, they will say anything if they think it will get them into power

  • icon

    Typical of the likes of left wing Labour, Shelter and all the others who seek to bash landlords and the whole PRS. McDonald's comments are typical of seeing every landlord as bad and money grabbing, with their properties falling into disrepair and taking advantage of tenants. Its a shame he cant find the time to come over to my neck of the woods and I'll give him a tour of our properties which are all kept in very good condition by our landlords, who in the vast majority of cases are more than happy to invest in their properties and keep their tenants happy.

  • icon

    When McDonnell was on the old GLC with Red Ken Livingstone, the latter thought McDonnell was too left wing. So look out. There is a Marxist about.
    McDonnell of course admires Venezuela as an economic model too. As well as wanting Cuba as an ally.
    Don't blame me if voters somehow let Corbyn in, then.

  • icon

    And macdonald was Sacked by livingston

  • icon

    If they get in power would the last person to leave the UK please turn the lights off.

    Algarve  Investor

    Don't worry, Boris and co will get there way before them at this rate! His government actually offers a genuine threat to our democracy, to our easy trading with the EU, to the collaboration between scientific institutions, to food and medicine supplies, to peace in NI, to Parliament's sovereignty (ironic given many say that was what Brexit was all about), and to the rule of law.

    Billions spent on no-deal planning, something the PM says he absolutely doesn't want. He's made numerous election pledges despite insisting he doesn't want a general election. He says he wants a deal with the EU but refuses to engage with them. £100m spent on a PR campaign to get people ready for Brexit. What a mess.

    We know he's a serial liar and opportunist, but his recent actions are taking things to the extreme.

    If anyone who voted leave now complains about roaming charges in the EU, or longer queues at the borders for trains, ferries and planes, I will laugh my head off!

  • S l
    • S l
    • 03 September 2019 10:45 AM

    Why do they persist in making allegations that a large number of landlord do not upkeep the rental property or overcrowding in order to justify their ridiculous suggestion. Why dont we put them to task to come up with the actual figures compare the number of rogue landlords who does that to the rest of us who are doing it properly and we would find that it is the minute minority in comparison to the total amount of landlord in PRS.

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    • 03 September 2019 12:58 PM

    @algarve investor
    Yet more twaddle from you.
    Why do you persist in posting complete and utter rubbish.
    Everyone knows you are completely wrong.
    Nothing wrong with BrExit at all.
    The sooner it occurs the better.
    The EU is just a giant protectionist racket designed to keep French peasants and German coal miners in work.
    It is now a ridiculous political construct which the UK wants no part of.
    The UK will trade with the EU and the rest of the world on terms that it agrees with INDIVIDUAL countries.
    The Common Market as was was barely tenable and destroyed many UK industries.
    Can't wait for free movement to end.
    There is going to be a lot of p####d off Romanian gypsies hoping for the UK benefit lifestyle.
    No more once we are out if the EU hopefully in a few weeks time.

    Algarve  Investor

    Free movement won't end - the modern world relies on it. And if free movement ends, what happens to the million or so Brits living in the EU? What happens to the rights of EU citizens? Those with settled status? Those without settled status but married to someone British?

    What happens to people who rely on easy trade and links between the UK and the EU? What happens to all the subsidies farmers rely on? What about all the initiatives enacted by the EU to clean up our beaches and prevent us from overfishing? What about food regulations? Food supplies? What about students from overseas? Are they disallowed from studying here? How do you solve the NI border problem?

    As for trade deals, history tells us these don't happen quickly. They happen very, very slowly, and if you're in a weak negotiating position - as Britain will be after Brexit - you get walked all over. Trump's America will make looser food regulations absolutely central to any future trade deal. That means chlorinated chicken and hormone-induced beef making its way into our supermarkets, you understand.

    What about the trade deal with the EU? How will that be any better than what we have now? And if we want to trade with them, we'll have to abide by EU health and safety laws/regulations. They won't change things just for us. What's more, with no deal, what's the plan? Do we stay on WTO rules forever? What about when sterling plunges to even lower levels?

    These are the questions Brexiteers like you have no answers to. You just say it will be alright on the night, the world and his uncle will want to do deals with us.

    You point the finger at the EU as this unelected, sinister body out to screw Britain and its people over. In what way is the EU a ridiculous political construct and Westminster not? Its elections are fairer, for starters. We have plenty of representation there, even if they refuse to look out for interests most of the time thanks to Farage and his merry band of wallies.

    What is the plan post-Brexit? Still, three years down the line, the Brexiteers have no answer to that?

    Making yourselves poorer, less significant on the world stage and like a petty little child who walks away when they don't get their own way doesn't seem like a very good plan. Why, after us walking away without a deal, will the EU suddenly come up with a better one? How long will the UK-US pact take to iron out? What will we get out of it?

    I await your answers with bated breath.

    Believe it or not, there's a whole country out there and most of them didn't vote for no deal. That wasn't on the ballot paper, was it? Leading Brexiteers, including Gove and BoJo, have promised, time and time again, that we would get a deal.

    We shouldn't be beholden to the will of a few extremists who say Brexit must happen at all costs, even if it damages the economy, our standing in the world (even further than it already has been) and causes job losses, uncertainty for residents and more and more issues.

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    • 03 September 2019 13:42 PM

    What you call free movement I would call controlled immigration which I have no problem with.
    It had worked well in Australia and NZ for over 70 years now.
    Had the UK adopted such a migration policy there would be a far smaller UK population which is what is needed.
    There are simply too many people in the UK.
    Westminster is far more democratic than the EU.
    The sooner the EU gas left the Fourth Reich the better!

    S l
    • S l
    • 13 September 2019 08:47 AM

    if we want to negotiate with the french. we must first and foremost try to understand what makes them tick and what makes them accept negotiations. I heard from those who host french students in england have quite a problem with these french students. They came and stay with host families for a few days accepting their hospitality, paid at minimal value cf to air bnb, then go around the house at night looking to steal things. Eveen went as far as stealing from inside the bedroom when they are asleep. One family had their brand new camping equimpent stolen and when refer to the co ordinator here, the french refused to accept the accusations as they already left in their coach to the ferry and nothing they can do about it. Even better was when they were caught breaking stuff in the house and windows, they acknowledge they broke it or deny it, yet refused point blank to pay for damages. These are just kids, students from school with their teachers agreeing with the students and their refusal to pay. Are we really serious about Brexit? If so, you better find a way to deal with these thieving nasty people who grab and walk even when caught red handed!!!

  • icon

    It may surprise you to know Paul Barrett and Algarve Investor that not everyone agrees with you. This discussion forum was about Labour's plans in the UK Lettings market not Brexit!

    • 03 September 2019 22:51 PM

    BrExit was cited due the effects on the PRS which nobody really knows what they will be.
    Controlled borders which will come with BrExit must surely affect the PRS.
    Removing the 250000 migrants that enter the UK annually who require rental accommodation must surely result in reduced demand for rental properties.
    Of course this is all so much conjecture as nobody really knows by what amount immigration can be controlled.
    Back in the day 40000 was the usual amount and that was even then far too much.
    The UK must learn to resource it's own population to manage its labour requirements.
    There are millions of economically inactive people many of them abusing the welfare system to avoid working.
    Those on welfare should be forced to work in jobs they don't want or they find their own job.
    There are plenty of vacancies that can be filled by all the feckless unemployed.
    Only those who are genuinely incapable of ANY firm of work should be allowed to laze away their days on a sofa.
    Ensuring all those below retirement age are working will greatly reduce the need for lie skilled and lie waged migrants.
    We have more than enough low skilled for all the crap jobs.
    Those on welfare should be forced to do those jobs.
    This would substantially reduce demand for migrants and so reduce rental property demand.
    That was the context of BrExit being cited.

  • icon

    Stop panicking. It won't happen. Labour has so many crackpot "ideas" they must find them in Christmas crackers.

    • 03 September 2019 22:39 PM

    I hope your wisdom turns out to be the case.
    Until we have a guaranteed Tory Govt or rather any Govt that is not Labour controlled then LL will have every right to be extremely nervous

  • icon

    This idea from McDonnell, does he actually hear what comes out of his mouth? this is an utterly preposterous idea, its absolutely ludicrous!, damanging, dangerous - unethical and most likely unlawful! - state theft of property - even saying it is beyond belief that this man could suggest that a property owned could be forced to sell to a tenant and under market rate - unlawful - (said by a man who has a 2nd home)! I wonder if this was said to create a ripple effect, that it would unnerve the BTL market and so creating a potential sell off, hence to then flood the market, so house prices go down? - anyhow this law if there was any whiff of it coming into fruition would have to get through parliament and would inpinge on an individual human rights - There would be many court cases abound, brought by wealthy property owners and so on. I think this is a non-starter and like someone has already said, he got it out of a Christmas cracker!!!!

    S l
    • S l
    • 13 September 2019 08:32 AM

    We still lose out because of the amount of time and cash needed to go to court just to protect our rights. Thats the trouble when we allow any tom dick and harry into the parliament. I heard in south east asia , the prime ministers or ministers are mainly from those with medical degrees and law degrees which at least ensure that such nonsense does not even arise


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