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Right to buy: here, going, gone

Matt Kennedy writes up the session by Sian Jones of Blake Morgan on the future of the right to buy in Wales.  Sian was speaking at TAI 2017, CIH Cymru’s annual conference.

It’s here.. it’s going…  and it’ll be gone in the near future…

This was Sian Jones’s (of Blake Morgan) first message when it came to introducing the session.

Sian highlighted some of the practical challenges of the right to buy. Explaining exercising the right hasn’t been the one thing that has caused challenges. Issues have been experienced when the implication of exercising the right by families and individuals has not been fully appreciated. For example, in a block of flats where responsibility for service charges of maintenance and upgrade costs to the building have not been considered as a consequence of exercising the right.

The rights are attached to a person, not to a property, Sian explains. So meaning in practice, the right to buy can follow a tenant if they move to a property owned by the same landlord. Sian suggested there is likely to be a spike in applications as the end of the right to buy in Wales draws closer but there would need to be investigation on a case by case basis on whether rights still applied in some instances.

In Scotland, there was a huge increase in applications; Sian reflects that as a way to bring forward the impact of the legislation in Wales there seems to be a drive by local authorities to gain suspension of the policy within their area, in tandem with awaiting the full political process to take place.

Within a month of the bill getting royal assent the Welsh government must prepare an explanatory document for tenants to inform and engage tenants in the abolition of the right to buy. This document will also be disseminated to landlords at which point, landlords will need to provide it to all relevant tenants. Further clarity is needed, as Sian explains, on the implication of any delays to distributing this information document.

CIH Cymru will be providing written and oral evidence to the Equalities, Communities and Local Government committee at the Welsh Assembly, as the committee undertakes its scrutiny of provisions in the bill. Time to Deliver is this year’s theme at TAI and delivery, in the ability to deliver high quality housing services is interweaved irremovably with the availability of social housing stock. CIH Cymru will continue to highlight why abolishing the right to buy in Wales is a step in the right direction – protecting a vital asset the must be both maintained and boosted – this, of course, goes beyond the scope of the legislation, but it a helpful push along the way toward further securing the social housing stock in Wales.

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