Former council flat on sale for almost £1 million

Chelsea former council house will fetch almost £1 million - is this fair?

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Former council flat for sale in London for £1 million

A former council flat in London could be the first to sell for almost £1 million. The Chelsea flat was sold to its residents under the right-to-buy scheme in 1989, and is now on sale for £999,950.

The flat is part of an estate of 30 properties near the Kings Road. The estate agent listing says it is a three-bedroom ground floor property with a front terrace. It adds that it offers "a generous living space with well proportioned rooms in a sought-after area."

Some of the interiors look a little dated, but with a little cosmetic improvement, the owners will have a large flat in a supremely expensive part of London, for around the going rate.

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Profit

The Daily Mail reported that the flat sold in 1989 for just £48,000. If it fetches the asking price, it will make the owner an incredible £952,000 in profit. Owner June Woodward, 61, told The Sun on Sunday: "The increase is incredible. Right to buy was a great way of getting on to the property ladder and it is leaving the family with £1million." The admin worker shares the flat with her three siblings, and with her share of the money she plans to buy a property in Watford.

It's an incredible sum for a former council property, but it's not the most expensive one ever sold. That title goes to a house in Southwark, which sold for £2.96 million in October last year. The 200-year-old Grade II-Listed house near Borough Market was sold at auction. The property had been empty for years, and was sold to raise money for social housing.

Is this fair?

For the Woodward family, the right-to-buy scheme has now helped two generations of the same family get onto the housing ladder. First June's parents were able to buy at an affordable price, and now the profit would be enough to help the four children put down a hefty deposit for homes of their own (assuming that's what they spend the money on). In that way you could argue that the scheme has been an overwhelming success.

However, on the flip side, you have to wonder who is buying up these former council properties. According to a Daily Mirror investigation last year, at the moment around a third of ex-council properties sold in the 1980s are owned by private landlords, and in one London borough almost half are let out to tenants.

While they may have helped the occupants get onto the property ladder initially, they are now simply cash cows for the wealthy, and have done nothing to improve the situation for buyers looking for affordable property to purchase or tenants looking for affordable homes to rent.

The scheme generated controversy when it was revived in 2012 with new discounts of up to £75,000 for council tenants who wanted to buy their property. In contrast to the former scheme, the government pledged that any properties that were sold would generate money for councils that would be ploughed into building additional council properties - and so increase the amount of social housing available rather than decrease it.

However, the National Housing Federation recently pointed out in The Guardian that: "Since the right-to-buy discount was increased in 2012, 5,944 local authority homes were sold in the first year and only 3,634 replacement homes are complete or on their way. Of course there will be a time lag between selling and building, but the level of discount and way the money is distributed means some homes will never be replaced. It's like trying to fill a bath with the plug out." It argues that there is a dire shortage of affordable homes for people to rent, and so a policy which effectively reduces that number is flawed in the extreme.

Then there are those who are struggling by without benefits and in private rented accommodation who will never be able to afford their own home, and who wonder why they are not offered a generous discount in order to get onto the housing ladder.

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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