The Scottish Government has put forward proposals to further restrict the right to buy housing policy.
Announcing a consultation on the issue, Housing Minister Keith Brown said reducing the number of people living in social rented accommodation who have the right to buy their homes will boost the supply of social housing across Scotland.
The proposed changes would cut the discounts available to those who wish to purchase their home through right to buy and place greater restrictions on where it would be available, for example, in areas where housing is in under particular pressure.
The changes could lead to up to 20,000 fewer social homes being sold off over the next 10 years, helping to boost the stock of affordable homes for rent.
While the main focus of the consultation is on tightening the current rules around who qualifies for right to buy, it also raises the possibility of ending right to buy all together at some point in the future.
Mr Brown, who was speaking at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ (SFHA’s) annual conference, in Glasgow, said:
“I want to ensure that social housing is protected for future generations, providing homes for the people and jobs in the Scottish economy.
“Over the years, the sale of hundreds of thousands of properties under right to buy has led to a haemorrhaging in our social housing stock.
“Councils have been willing to start building again – backed by £115 million from this government - because they know that those houses will continue to be available as affordable houses to rent for future generations.
“However, over half a million tenants still have a right to buy entitlement, and over 200,000 of these have the preserved right to buy, with excessive discounts that I do not believe can be justified.
“As well as eroding the asset base, right to buy leaves landlords out of pocket, which can lead to higher rents for remaining tenants, and make it harder to invest in new stock.
“That is why the Scottish Government has, today, launched a consultation on the future of right to buy in Scotland.
“We are asking two main questions - should tenants who still have the preserved right to buy be moved onto the modernised right to buy? Or, should we simply end all right to buy entitlements once and for all?
“I know that right to buy is an area where many people have strong views and this consultation is an opportunity for everyone to tell us what they think.”
Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said:
"There’s no point in running a bath with the plug out but that’s what we continue to do when we build good quality affordable homes for social rent and then sell them on at a discounted price.
“In the last ten years 92,000 homes were lost though Right-to-Buy in Scotland, meanwhile 156,000 households are on the waiting list for a home to call their own. For these families and individuals – and in particular children - the lack of social housing is like a nightmare with no end in sight.
“We welcome the steps the Scottish Government has already made to reduce the negative impact of Right to Buy and hope this trend continues.”