Council ready to buy homes housing associations don’t want

Pilot project to buy back former council homes could be extended to new affordable homes.


A council buying back homes it used to call its own is going after homes housing associations don’t want.

Brighton & Hove Council sees the scheme as an extension of its city-wide housing strategy and  accompanying commitment to prioritise affordable housing provision.

A meeting of the council’s housing and new homes committee next week will hear how expanding the scope of this policy will require additional capital and revenue funding.

The scheme currently has £3m approved (£2m in 2017/18 and £1m in 2018/19), with a further £2m provisionally agreed for both 2019/20 and 2020/21 – taking the bringing the total anticipated budget to £7m until the end of March 2021.

Over the past year, plans for small numbers of affordable homes in new developments in Brighton fell through because none of the five housing associations the council works with wanted to take them on.

In some cases, there were not enough affordable homes on offer for the council’s preferred housing associations who didn’t want the risk of managing small numbers of properties.

Instead the council was offered money to buy up other properties, and it has now proposed to extend the pilot project to buy back former council homes to new affordable homes.

Committee chair Cllr Anne Meadows said: “Previously we have lost opportunities where developers have not found a housing association to fill that role and so they have given a commuted sum to offset the loss of affordable homes – with this new policy we can increase our opportunities and gain more homes for families in need.”

A report for next week’s meeting says so far £428,500 has been spent on a flat and house, with a further three former council homes under offer for a combined £681,200 and another two with offers in the pipeline.

The year-long pilot started with a budget of £2m in November last year, and there is a £250k per home spending limit on buying back former council properties – limiting the council to ‘high demand’ one- and two-bedroom homes.

The scheme currently only applies to Right to Buy properties that were purchased less than 10 years ago, over which the council has had a right of first refusal since 2005.

The pilot has also demonstrated that applying small subsidies (over 60 years) from the Housing Revenue Account in addition to rental income, where appropriate, has allowed the council to take advantage of more opportunities and provided further flexibility to determine the rent levels and use of the property.