25 Jul 2016

Housing and Planning

Council buy back ex-local authority property

Bristol City Council has bought back an ex-local authority property in Lawrence Hill.

The purchase of the flat in Cashmore House means that the whole block in now back under council ownership.

This follows the decision from the new administration to put future sales of council properties at auction on hold.

Properties that would previously have gone to auction will now be considered for temporary accommodation to ease the problem of homelessness in the city.

The flat was purchased using additional Right to Buy receipts, money which must be returned to Central Government if not spent by the council within three years.

There are now no leasehold flats in this particular block, which makes future maintenance much easier and more cost effective.

To achieve the ambitions set out by the new administration, Bristol will need to tackle a number of housing related issues over the next five years. 

There is an historic shortage of affordable housing and addressing this is at the heart of the new strategy.

Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "This purchase demonstrates that we want to be much more active around managing our housing stock.

“This means we will look at purchasing back ex-council properties if it is economic to do so and if it increases the efficiency of our management."

The council may purchase further properties in the future should ex-council homes become available at the right price and in the right condition.

However, a major purchase scheme is unlikely due to the pressure of funding for council housing, in particular the introduction of annual rent reductions for council homes.

Previously government policy was for rents to go up each year above inflation, this meant the council had a growing income to fund investment in existing and new homes. The new policy is for rent to reduce by 1% each year for the next four years.

Alongside this, the Right to Buy policy means that the council continues to lose homes and income, with properties sold at a considerable discount and a percentage of the money going back to central government.

The funding of council housing is legally separate to the rest of the council’s funding and is not subsidised by the government or by the council.