National Housing Federation strikes deal with government over implementation of controversial policy

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has struck a deal with government whereby housing associations will be asked to voluntarily adopt the Conservatives’ controversial Right to Buy policy.

The NHF said the offer - which if adopted by housing associations would sidestep the need for legislation and help avoid the risk of the sector being reclassified as public rather than independent - would extend the opportunity for discounted home ownership to 2.3 million people.

The UK’s 1,400 housing associations have been given a week to agree to the proposed agreement.

Under the NHF deal, housing associations would retain the discretion not to sell in certain circumstances - for example where a property is in a rural area and could not be replaced, or where it is adapted for special needs tenants. In that event, housing associations would offer tenants the opportunity to use their discount to buy an alternative home from either their own or another association’s stock.

The government has agreed to fully compensate housing associations for discounts offered to tenants, and housing associations would retain the sales receipt to enable them to reinvest in the building replacement homes.

Commenting on the policy at the NHF’s annual conference in Birmingham yesterday, communities secretary Greg Clark told housing associations: “Your tenants share the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. They live in the same towns, their children go to the same schools, they have the same ambitions for themselves and their families. They should be given the same opportunity, if they want it, to own their home.

“There is no reason why signing a tenancy agreement with a housing association should mean signing away your aspirations to be a homeowner.”

The Chartered Institute of Housing welcomed the deal, but warned it would be “absolutely critical” to ensure both housing association and council homes were “replaced on a one for one basis within a guaranteed timetable”.

Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan criticised the proposed deal: “Not only will the Tories’ plans make the London housing crisis far worse, but they are dodging parliamentary scrutiny. Their plans will lead to fewer affordable homes in every area and more people having to move out of London.”