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Less than one in 10 housing association tenants are likely to buy their home under the new right-to-buy scheme, a landmark survey has suggested.

Sheffield Hallam University researchers quizzed nearly 7,000 housing association tenants and found that only seven per cent of those assessed as being able to afford their property were likely to take up the government scheme.

The Big Tenant Survey, carried out by Sheffield Hallam on behalf of Housing Partners, found that two thirds of tenants in social housing are not interested in exploring the Government’s new Right to Buy for tenants in housing association homes.

Only a small proportion of the one third who are interested could actually afford to buy their homes. 

  • Only a third of housing association tenants in England stated it was 'very' or 'fairly' likely  that they would take up the opportunity to buy their home
  • Further analysis suggested that for many of these tenants buying their homes  would be  unrealistic based on their current financial circumstances

The survey reveals that of the 33 per cent of tenants who said they were very likely or fairly likely to take up the Right to Buy opportunity:

  • 71 per cent were in workless households
  • 61 per cent had a household income less than £21,000 per year
  • 41 per cent were on Housing Benefit
  • 22 per cent were aged 55+ years
  • 7 per cent were in rent arrears

Professor David Robinson, from Hallam's Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research, said: "These findings show that less than 10 per cent of housing association tenants interested in buying their homes have the income to do so.

"We have included information about the discount likely to be applied and the income required to get a mortgage in assessing just seven per cent of our sample as being able to make the transition from tenant to homeowner.

"In London, where demand is highest, our analysis suggests that only one percent of housing association tenants will be able to buy their home. 

David Robinson

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"Extending the right to buy was one of the central policies of the Conservatives’ General Election manifesto but this suggests that very few housing association tenants will be able to do so."

Simon Hollingsworth, managing director of Housing Partners comments; “This research through the Big Tenant Survey is invaluable to enable us to deliver solutions to the sector that will positively assist tenants and housing providers. Our conclusion is that the impact of Right to Buy will be minimal, but our job is to continue to monitor this and other changes in the political and economic environment to ensure that our solutions continue to support housing providers in this period of rapid change.”

Notes to editors:

1. The Big Tenant Survey 2015 was an online survey distributed mainly to tenants active on HomeSwapper website, as well as by social media and by a number of large social housing landlords across the UK.  The survey generated 15,769 responses between July and September 2015 across all housing tenures; 14,028 within social housing. These responses were weighted to make them more representative of the known characteristics of social housing tenants.  Researchers at Sheffield Hallam then used 6,700 responses from housing association tenants for the analysis of right to buy.

2. The Department for Communities and Local Government reported in December (10 Dec.2015) that 11,000 tenants had registered their interest in buying their housing association homes since the scheme opened on 1st December and eventually, all 1.3million housing association tenants will be able to apply to buy their home.

For press information: Laurie Harvey in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 2811 or email