Was selling council houses to tenants a good idea?

Essay by boodyboo January 2004

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The sale of council houses to tenants has been practiced for many years, but was significantly increased by the 1980 Housing Act that was put through Parliament by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. This Act, and in general the sale of council houses, have had both costs and benefits, so to come to a conclusion on whether or not this was a good idea we have to analyse the changes made by the Housing Act of 1980 (and other, less significant Acts which followed it) to the way in which tenants bought their homes. It is important to look at the costs and benefits of these changes to both council house tenants and to the state as a whole, then to see whether either the pros or cons outweigh the other if the above question is to be properly answered.

Since the introduction of the 1980 Housing Act it is estimated that around 2.2

million council homes have been sold off to tenants . This was a high increase on the number of sales in the years beforehand and this is mainly due to the part of the legislation that gives tenants a 'Right to Buy' their rented accommodation. The main change that facilitated this right was that beforehand, if somebody wished to purchase their council house, their landlord had to agree to the sale. 'Right to Buy ' made it possible for tenants to bypass their landlord and if the landlord proved to be obtrusive, intervention from the Secretary of State could be used . Also, large discounts on the houses were made available by a government who were very keen to privatise the housing sector. At the moment, tenants who have lived in a house for over two years are entitled to a 32% discount on...