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Labour’s controversial right to buy could work, if landlords benefit too

A leading PropTech chief says there is nothing inherently wrong with private tenants being given the right to buy their property, so long as both sides of the transaction benefit.

Labour is this week debating the controversial right to buy idea proposed recently by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Earlier this month the Financial Times broke the story of McDonnell’s surprise attack on buy to let. Then he told the newspaper how he would set about allowing tenants to buy their landlord’s property.


“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.”

Landlords failed to reinvest in properties and had made a “fast buck” at the cost of the community and their tenants, McDonnell argued.

“We’ve got a large number of landlords who are not maintaining these properties and are causing overcrowding and these problems. In my street now, a third of the houses are right-to-buy, badly maintained, overcrowded; it’s horrendous” he insisted.

Now leading PropTech figure Neil Cobbold - chief operating office of lettings payment automation provider PayProp - says it must be remembered that the suggestion is not yet official Labour partly policy and needs full debate to tease out specifics which have so far been lacking.

“There is nothing wrong with giving private tenants the option to purchase properties from landlords, but any such system must provide benefits for both parties” says Cobbold.

“Private landlords have been hit with a range of tax changes in recent years, including additional stamp duty and the removal of buy to let mortgage interest tax relief. If landlords were offered some sort of exemption from these measures in exchange for selling their properties to tenants, this could create a scenario that is fair for both sides of the transaction and benefits the overall health of the UK property market” he says.

McDonnell’s proposal has been widely criticised by many organisations in the lettings industry; the Labour Party conference, currently being held in Brighton, is scheduled to hear a speech from the Shadow Chancellor tomorrow.

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    Maybe Mr Cobbold should talk to a few landlords that have built their portfolios and sometimes taken enormous risk in doing so. The properties are theirs. How can it be right they would be forced to sell them? It is theft.

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    We have a form of right to buy now it’s called a free market, if the tenants want to buy my property they can make me a competitive offer I will then consider the offer. But they haven’t got the financial abilities to buy that’s why they rent and have 77” smart TVs and frequent holidays

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    The Politicians and Tenant support groups are talking enough tosh with commentators from supposedly within our industry adding to it.

    ' PRIVATE ' rented property is just that. Its up to the Owner of the property if they want to sell.
    If tenants want the Right to buy, then let them rent the abundance ( sic ) of L.A or Social Housing properties on the market, or better still ...

    Go and buy a House on the open market like everyone else does !

  • Suzy OShea

    The miniscule carrots offered as incentives in the above post are too tiny to consider appropriate compensation for all the work that goes into running a property.

    How such a move will affect the market is that badly needed property for families like flats and houses will suddenly be registered as houses of multiple occupation, where the multiple tenants have neither the motive nor the means to consider buying a property. How will this help families who are already struggling to find homes to rent? It won't!

    We all know why Mrs thatcher started the fire sale of council properties to council tenants. it was because years of under-investment by over a decade of Labour maladministrations had left most of them in such parlous condition that only encouraged repeated vandalism by the off-spring of such council tenants and Mrs T was not prepared to raid the tax-payers to pay for their refurbishment, which anyway would only have been a temporary situation. So she decided to cut government losses and sell which turned out to be a wise and popular move and turned around many grotty and dodgy areas with sink council estates.

    And after such a record of under-investment the Labour and to some extent the Conservative parties have the impertinence to accuse private landlords of not maintaining their properties, when they were the first to do this. What hypocritical cheats promising anything and totally distorting the truth to bribe their way into voters good books! Were it not for the often arduous and risky investment of private landlord with small or moderate portfolios the level of homelessness would be even higher than the staggering 400,000 across the country. This is because in the supposedly 7th wealthiest nation in the world governments of all political stripes have fled their duty to provide social housing to the most needy! Shame on them. So now having sold the family silver of their stocks of council estates, often to provide councils with the money for the daily running costs of their other services, since central government has cut their funding to the marrow, now the big idea in town is let's rob the poor private landlords of their property and force them into the same fire sale!

    Just shows in reality what politicians of all parties think of the economic effects of brexit that no government will have any money to give away to bribe voters, they have to do it on the back of hard working private landlords who are on-call 24/7 for any emergency any mindless irresponsible tenant might cause even out of jealousy that he has to pay rent for housing!

    Why are some British council tenants not more house proud of and socially responsible for the estates where they live? these their homes after all. You don't find this level of neglect in social housing in Austia. They have rules which they have to follow and they do. their council estates look like luxury blocks of flat in comparison to some of ours. this has been so since the 1980s.

    It always amazes me that young people boosted up the council housing queue and awarded a council property can even think of turning it into a crack producing and drug dealing den! Then they wind up homeless and on the streets, small wonder having wasted their opportunities.

    As far as i'm concerned i'll fight to keep what is mine, small though my port-folio is.

    S l
    • S l
    • 23 September 2019 12:44 PM

    Hi Suzy, you should run for council and may the prs prospers in the right format of capitalism without suppression from the governing parties

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    Good thing is these stupid clueless labour bods will never get into power with they have corbyn mcdonald thornbury abbots and the blond double barrel soon forgotten name heading everything up. Please dont change labour keep on doing what your doing with the same crowd of clowns.

  • Suzy OShea

    Steve Sykes,

    i'm not sure. boris of the unmade bed head is equally appalling. parliament was open for six days and he suffered six defeats. He kicked out 21 of his own MPs and a further five crossed the floor to the Lib-Dems in protest at his blustering lies about Brexit being great for our economy, when all government reports only promise dislocation, disruption and disaster! as the head of a minority government, he could see Labour combine with other opposition parties to take over the agenda. They don't even need a general election to pass their more radical policies under a lame duck Conservative maladministration.

    If brexit ever comes to pass, I don't think the people will be very forgiving of Boris and I think a hung parliament is all he can hope for, sadly or not, because i think he is awful, even though I have been a life-long Conservative party supporter.

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    Have faith Boris and Priti will sort out this mess. Labour liberal both utter useless parties with braindead ideas and plans. Brexit might be the Kingmaker with Boris being king .
    Need support not back stabbing clowns disrupting at ever turn.

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    Stick to developing tech Mr Cobbold, because you clearly know nothing about politics or economics.


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