Thursday, 14 April 2016

Only a handful of Council Houses in Warrington left – Opportunity or Problem?

The ‘Right to Buy’ scheme was a policy introduced by Maggie Thatcher in 1980. It gave secure council tenants the legal right to buy the council home they were living in – with huge discounts. The heyday of council Right to Buys was when 1,719,368 homes in the country were sold in this manner between October 1980 and April 1998. However, in 1997, Tony Blair reduced the discount available to tenants of council houses, so the numbers of properties being bought under the Right to Buy declined.

So what does this mean for Warrington homeowners and landlords?

Looking at the figures for our local authority, whilst the number of Right to Buys have dwindled over the last few years to an average of only 213 Right to Buy sales per year, one must look further back in time.

Looking at the overall figures, 12,760 council properties were bought by council tenants in the Warrington Council area between 1980 and 1998. Big numbers by any measure, but even more important to the whole Warrington property market – every Warrington homeowner, Warrington landlord and even Warrington aspiring first time buyers. Especially when you consider these 12,760 properties make up a colossal 7.08% of all the privately owned properties in our area, as in our local authority area, there are only 180,300 privately owned properties. 

Warrington first time buyers and landlords can now buy these ex-council properties second hand, as those original 80s and 90s tenants, now homeowners, have more than passed the time of any claw back of the discount they received. The council discount was repayable if the first owner sold within a stipulated time period - usually 5 years.

What’s the difference between ex-council houses and all the new builds?

Yes, the modern stuff being built in Warrington is lovely – but some landlords purchase buy to let property solely based on where they would choose to live themselves, instead of choosing with a business head and choosing where a tenant would want to live.

Remember the first rule of buy to let property: You aren’t going to live in the property yourself.

What an ex-council property may lack in kerb appeal can be more than made up for in other ways.  Tenants are often more worried about how close the property is to a particular school or family member for child care.  

Whilst ex-council properties tend to increase in value at a slower rate than more modern properties, that is made up for by the higher yields – and those built between the wars or just after are really well built. Tenant demand for such properties is good. Since Warrington property values are so expensive, a lot of people can’t get mortgages to buy, so will reconcile by renting (meaning there is a good demand for that sort of property to rent).

The very fact the council were forced to sell these Warrington properties in the 80s and 90s means that today’s younger generation who would have normally got a council house to live in, now cannot as too many were sold ten or twenty years ago. 

So, Warrington landlords:

Don’t dismiss ex-council houses and apartments – but remember the first rule of buy to let.

However, those very same Warrington landlords should go in with their eyes open and take lots of advice. Not all ex-council properties are the same and, even though they have good demand and high yields, they can also give you other headaches and issues when it comes to the running of the rental property.

One source of advice as ever is the Warrington Property Blog or call me, Manoj Patel, on 01925 235 338. If you see any properties on Rightmove, Zoopla or any other portals then feel free to email me a link at for a second opinion.

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