Councils to offer buy-back on homes: Part-exchange chance for leaseholders

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A 'BUY-BACK' plan was announced last night by Sir George Young, the Housing minister, to help former council tenants unable to sell homes they bought under the Government's right-to-buy policy.

Leaseholders who have been unable to sell their flats because prospective buyers have been unable to get a mortgage would be able to sell their flats back to the council in part-exchange for a more desirable council property.

Sir George indicated councils would not be required to hand out cash for flats they have repurchased under the scheme, although they have discretion to repurchase homes sold to tenants.

Winding up a Commons debate, Sir George said he was hoping to change the law by laying a parliamentary order before the end of next month.

A consultation paper is to be issued next month by the Department of Environment on other options. These include a draft advisory circular for councils on the range of assistance measures, such as the discretion to repurchase homes from tenants; and a review of arrangements under which authorities can assist open-market sales by entering into mortgage indemnity agreements to indemnify recognised lenders against losses in the event of sale.

The buy-back scheme could help council leaseholders needing to move to accommodate growing families who could not sell flats bought under the right-to-buy policy. Where they can buy another more suitable home from the council, the scheme would allow the council to take back the flat to offset the right-to- buy price paid for it against the sale price of the home to be exchanged.