Holyrood votes to end Right to Buy

Posted on 26/06/2014 by

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The Scottish Parliament has voted to end the right to buy social housing. The Housing (Scotland) Bill passed at Holyrood yesterday will prevent the sale of up to 15,500 social houses over the next ten years and support improvements to the private rented sector. Housing charities have welcomed the decision.

The Bill will end the Right to Buy social housing in Scotland over the next two years, giving tenants time to consider their options and find financial advice if they want to exercise their right to buy their home

The legislation will establish a private rented sector tribunal which gives tenants and landlords access to specialist justice and allow them to resolve disputes more effectively.

Changes to mobile home site licensing will also improve the rights of over 3,000 households, many of whom are elderly, living permanently in mobile or park homes across Scotland.

Other measures in the Bill include introducing a regulatory framework for letting agents and giving local authorities new discretionary powers to tackle poor housing conditions in the private sector.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “This is a historic day for housing as it marks the end of Right to Buy social housing in Scotland.

“Stakeholders from across the sector have given this legislation widespread support as they recognise that we have put together a package of measures which will help improve housing in the social, private rented and owner-occupied sectors.

“Today I put forward a number of amendments to the letting agent provisions in the Bill to provide a robust regulatory framework that will ensure consistent and high standards of service for tenants and landlords across Scotland.

“I am very grateful to all those who have contributed their views on the Bill over the last nine months and more. But legislation is only one of many actions that this Government is taking to improve housing in Scotland.

“This government continues to invest in affordable housing. Earlier this week the First Minister confirmed we have invested £1 billion in affordable housing since April 2011, putting us well on track to delivering an additional 30,000 homes across Scotland by March 2016. This investment is supporting 8,000 jobs in each year of the five-year parliamentary term.

“This Bill is a landmark step forward for housing. With the full powers of independence we will have greater control to tailor our grants and housing supply investment, and to integrate housing and welfare policies to meet the needs of our communities and the homebuilding industry in Scotland.”

Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government introduced the right to buy policy in 1980 and it has proved to be very popular in Scotland – around 534,000 tenants have taken advantage of the scheme to purchase their homes at a discounted rate from their local council or social landlord.

But while Right-to-Buy was a hit with buyers, the loss – and non-replacement – of prime social housing has meant even longer waiting lists for tenants, and housing charities and social housing organisations have welcomed the decision to scrap the scheme.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ Andy Young said the Right-to-Buy policy had ‘no place in 21st century Scotland’.

“Right-to-buy has been beneficial to a relatively small number of individuals, but clearly a loss to the greater public good”, he said. “Around 500,000 social rented homes have been lost in the 35 years of this policy in Scotland, very often the better stock in the more popular areas.”

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