TENANTS in the city can now apply to buy their homes at a discount after councillors agreed to enter into a £200 million Midlands-wide Right to Buy pilot.

The government scheme will allow a limited number of people, in homes handed over to Fortis Living by the city council, to apply to buy their homes at a reduced rate.

The Voluntary Right to Buy initiative - which extends the original Right to Buy scheme to include ‘affordable homes’ – would allow housing association tenants to buy their homes at a discount previously unavailable to them.

The council also agreed to give up its share of the money made from Right to Buy sales to allow Fortis Living to pay for a new home – set at a social rent level – to replace the sold one.

Before agreeing to forego the money, councillors on the city council’s policy and resources committee, placed a time restriction on Fortis of five years for the replacement homes.

This was to gain assurance that the houses would be built sooner rather than later.

Cllr Simon Geraghty said the scheme was a “sensible and well-thought-out” proposal but was less keen to impose an unreasonable time restriction on Fortis Living to build replacement homes.

He said: “We should be mindful that we are not putting restrictions on Fortis because then we are just setting them up to fail.

“We shouldn’t impose things on Fortis Living that we as an authority couldn’t do if we were it doing it ourselves.”

Cllr Pat Agar said: “I would like to agitate Fortis to replace the houses as expeditiously as possible.”

Estimates show around 3,000 homes will be sold across the West Midlands under the pilot with only ‘tens’ of those houses expected to be sold in Worcester.

National criteria sets out an extensive list of who can and cannot qualify but, broadly speaking, tenants must prove they have lived in social or affordable housing for at least three years before they can apply.

All replacement homes would be built within the city boundary at a social rent level and the city council keeps its right to ensure homes are available for which it can nominate households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.