Council Housing: Sales

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Mike Penning Mike Penning Conservative, Hemel Hempstead

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many council houses were sold to sitting tenants in each year since 1976; and on what basis decisions are made to sell council houses to (a) tenants and (b) tenants of housing associations under the right to buy.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

The right-to-buy scheme was introduced in October 1980. The number of council homes sold to sitting tenants under the scheme in England is shown in the following table:

Local authority housing stock sold under the right-to-buy scheme: England
Number of sales
1980-81 2,328
1981-82 105,199
1982-83 167,123
1983-84 106,262
1984-85 77,522
1985-86 72,142
1986-87 76,748
1987-88 93,729
1988-89 135,701
1989-90 133,804
1990-91 76,332
1991-92 48,290
1992-93 37,686
1993-94 44,678
1994-95 43,336
1995-96 31,512
1996-97 33,206
1997-98 41,329
1998-99 40,272
1999-2000 54,251
2000-01 52,380
2001-02 51,968
2002-03 63,394
2003-04 69,577
2004-05 49,983
2005-06 26,655
Total 1,735,407

1. Data includes estimates for non-responding authorities.

2. Information on other sales to sitting tenants (eg, under the voluntary powers in section 32 of the Housing Act 1985) is not readily available.


Statistical returns from local authorities.

Under Part 5 of the Housing Act 1985, secure tenants of local authority landlords, and tenants of housing associations who held secure tenancies with those associations prior to 1988, have the right to buy the home they rent. A tenant who held a secure tenancy with a local authority, and subsequently became an assured tenant of a housing association following transfer of their home to the association with the authority's housing stock, has a "preserved right to buy".

Local authorities and housing associations must sell properties to such tenants if they have been public sector tenants for at least five years before applying for the right to buy (two years if their tenancies began prior to 18 January 2005), unless:

the tenant is an undischarged bankrupt; the property is exempt from the right to buy: ie, (i) it is let in connection with the tenant's employment; (ii) it is particularly suitable for occupation by elderly or physically or mentally disabled people; (iii) it is due to be demolished, or (iv) the landlord has an insufficient interest in it - ie, is unable to grant a lease of at least 21 years on a house or 50 years on a flat.

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