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Tuesday 03 September 2019

Research made by the Financial Times concluded that the UK’s 2.6m landlords would face a moment of reckoning if Labour won the next general election after Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said he wanted a “right to buy” scheme for private tenants as well as higher taxes on landlords.

With British politics in turmoil and the chances of a snap general election fast increasing, the Financial Times (FT) examined the consequences for the UK economy of a Labour Government — which would be the most leftwing in modern history.

The Labour leadership is determined to shift power away from landlords and give to tenants.

The shadow chancellor has told the FT that he wants to see a new “right to buy” for millions of private tenants.

Mr McDonnell said he wanted to “tackle the burgeoning buy-to-let market” to make it easier for workers to buy the homes they live in.

He suggested the sum paid by tenants would not necessarily be the market price. “You’d want to establish what is a reasonable price, you can establish that and then that becomes the right to buy,” he said. “You (the Government) set the criteria. I don’t think it’s complicated.”

If a Labour Government pushed ahead with the policy, it could be as totemic as Margaret Thatcher’s “right to buy” policy in the 1980s, which allowed millions of council tenants to buy the property they lived in.

The idea of a private right-to-buy was mooted by Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, during his leadership bid in 2015 but it never became party policy. Reviving the idea as “great” and “radical”, Mr McDonnell said it could help reverse the problems caused by Thatcher’s policy.

Since then, the number of council houses has fallen from 6.5m to just 2m. Research by Inside Housing, a magazine, found that about 40 per cent were now in the hands of private landlords.

Landlords had failed to reinvest in properties and had made a “fast buck” at the cost of the community and their tenants, Mr McDonnell argued.

“We’ve got a large number of landlords who are not maintaining these properties and are causing overcrowding and these problems. In my street now, a third of the houses are right-to-buy, badly maintained, overcrowded; it’s horrendous.”