I was at the National Housing Federation conference last Thursday and ended up slap bang in the middle of housing policy, quite possibly, in the making!
Greg Clark, secretary of state (DCLG) announced that he was willing to accept a “new deal” suggested by David Orr at the National Housing Federation.
If you are a homeowner already or an investor, you may think this won’t affect you, but if it goes ahead it could have a massive impact on the private sector.
What are the proposals?
- Housing associations will allow tenants the right to buy.
- Government will pay for the discount given to tenants and pay full market price to housing associations to buy or build a replacement property.
- Housing associations will be able to buy an empty property, another property locally or build a new one to replace the stock which they have sold.
- Housing associations could reject some sales on the basis they wouldn’t be able to deliver another one eg in rural areas, but tenants would be offered another property instead.
- The government intends to fund the right to buy scheme by making the local authority (council) sell the highest value social homes when tenants move out.
Will the housing association proposal go ahead?
There are 1,400 housing associations across the country, some owning small numbers of homes, some owning tens of thousands.
Each one has until 5pm on Friday 2nd October 2015 to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the proposal.
If they say ‘yes’ it will go ahead and be implemented over the coming month.
How will it affect you?
Housing Association tenants
If you are a social tenant of a housing association and can afford to buy your property or want to buy another one, then this could be a great opportunity to do so. However, make sure you understand the costs to buy and that you will have to pay a monthly service charge which can go up huge amounts each year (there are no caps) as well as be responsible for major works such as spending tens of thousands on a new roof if needed.
House buyers and investors
This may encourage housing associations to sell more homes on the open market and will certainly mean more expensive council homes come up for sale, which may mean the opportunity to buy homes locally that otherwise would not have been available.
In the past, right to buy properties were owned for a while, but then sold off, many to buy to let investors, so it may mean more stock becomes available to purchase for buyers and investors.
In addition, more stock to buy may be built, it is estimated that this scheme could help to build over 100,000 new homes a year if it works, creating homes for sale on the private market as well as more social homes.
If you are selling your home you may not think this would affect you that much, but if housing associations are going to become buyers on the open market, it may well be that they want to purchase your property.
It could also mean your property could be sold either through an agent or directly to a housing association, so you may not need to pay estate agent fees and have a guaranteed buyer.
There is a real recognition that people need homes to rent, not just homes to buy, so it could mean that to help boost their revenues (especially now they have restrictions on how much they can increase social rents by each year) housing associations may build more stock specifically for private rent, just like associations such as Thames Valley Housing have done with their brand ‘Fizzy Living.’
So, we won’t know until next week what the result is, but this housing policy change could have a significant impact on the property market as we know it!
By Kate Faulkner