Fraud concerns as hundreds of Right to Buy homes sold to tenants on benefits

Posted: 8/7/2016

Around 16% of council homes that have been sold by ten local authorities under Right to Buy have been to tenants on housing benefit.

The figures, from the trade magazine Inside Housing and which were featured on radio’s File on 4 yesterday evening, raise the question of fraud.

Inside Housing contacted 40 councils which have sold off the most homes under Right to Buy.

Only ten provided figures, going back to 2012, when the Government raised discounts on Right to Buy properties. The discounts – soon to be extended to social housing tenants – are currently £77,900 outside London and £103,900 in London.

At the ten councils who released figures, there were 4,538 Right to Buy sales, with 721 to tenants on housing benefit.

The councils were: Greenwich, Brent, Islington, Newcastle, Dudley, Barking & Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Brighton, Kingston and Westminster.

The council with the most sales to tenants on housing benefit was Dudley (243 out of a total of 651 Right to Buy sales).

That was followed by Greenwich with 154 and Barking & Dagenham with 114.

Giles Peaker, a partner at Anthony Gold solicitors, said he had come across cases where companies provide funds for a tenant to carry out Right to Buy. But after the company took control of the property, the tenant was evicted.

He told Inside Housing: “It is usually people who are in desperate need of money or who are quite vulnerable who are particularly encouraged into these deals.”

Right to Buy is being rolled out to tenants in the social housing sector, and has been mooted for tenants in the private rented  by Jeremy Corbyn, who made it part of his pitch when he was campaigning for the Labour leadership last summer. A roll-out to the private sector has also been proposed by right wing think tank Civitas.

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