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Sandwell Council spends £5 million buying back council homes

Sandwell | News | Published:

Cash-strapped Sandwell Council has spent more than £5 million buying back homes which were originally sold at a discount under right to buy laws, it can be revealed.

Sandwell Council headquarters

The authority brought back 59 properties at a cost of £5.035 million.

Many of the homes were sold back to the authority for much more than they were bought as the council came under pressure increase its housing stock.

Bosses insisted they only bought back properties if the deal provided value for money.

The right to buy policy was introduced by the Conservative Government in the 1980s, allowing council house tenants to buy their homes at a discount.

But a surge in house prices over recent years meant the value of the properties had rocketed by the time the authority came to buy them back.

Documents showed one house the council sold in Bodenham Road, Smethwick, for £12,370 in 1989 was bought back for £106,200 in 2014 under a mortgage rescue scheme - more than eight times the original price.

There was a similar costly deal on a property the council sold in Valley Road, Smethwick, for £14,400 in 1998 which was then bought back for £105,000 in 2015.

Council chiefs decided to buy back dozens of properties at a significant loss between 2014 and 2016 due to the level of demand for council housing.

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Last year, there were 6,000 people on the council's housing waiting list.

Ajman Ali, Sandwell Council’s interim director of neighbourhoods, said: "Like all councils, we face great demand for housing and in particular we need homes suitable for families with children.

"Buying these properties means we have more homes suitable for families to move into. We only buy back properties we have a demand for and they are subject to an independent evaluation to make sure the council is getting good value for money.

"The discounts and terms are set by the Government’s Right to Buy scheme and they are not at each council’s discretion.

"The cost of bringing a property up to standard is what it would cost for any property in our current stock."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
@RichG_star

Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton

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