Covent Garden flat
An ex-council flat in Covent Garden has been sold for £1.2mBarnard Marcus

An ex-council flat in Covent Garden has been sold for almost 10 times its original price - £1.2m.

The flat on Tavistock Street is thought to be one of the most expensive former council flats ever sold, beating the previous record held by a council flat on Fulham Road, which was put on the market for £1.15m in July.

Bought under former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme in 1990 for £130,000, the flat is part of an ex-council mansion block and has three bedrooms and a communal garden.

Barry Marner, at estate agent Barnard Marcus, said: "With central London property prices at a premium, and with demand for properties far outstripping supply, we weren't surprised that this former council flat reached this impressive price."

The private buyer snapped up the property - which is within spitting distance of the Royal Opera House and Covent Garden market - within just six weeks.

But high rents and lack of affordable housing continue to pose challenges for those not lucky enough to have a foothold on the London property ladder.

In the last five years, there has been a 50% rise in the number of people living on London's canals, with many seeing life on a house boat as a viable cheaper alternative to renting rooms elsewhere in the capital.

In July, property website Zoopla found that the number of homeowners in Britain, whose properties are worth £1m or more, crossed 500,000 for the first time.

Meanwhile, Londoners have been forced into smaller and stranger accommodation, as new homes are built at half the pace needed to meet the intensifying housing demand from a growing population set to surge past 9 million by 2020.