Organisations including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the County Land and Business Association and the National Parks Association have expressed concerns about the proposal.
The policy looks set to be implemented on a voluntary basis by housing associations under a proposal put forward by the National Housing Federation.
The plan would mean a presumption in favour of sale in most circumstances but housing associations would retain some discretion. But the rural groups called for a complete exemption for countryside areas, warning that vital affordable housing would not be replaced if it was sold.
The organisations, also including the Hastoe Housing Group, National Association of Local Councils, Action with Communities in Rural England, Lincolnshire Rural Housing Association, Exmoor National Park and the Rural Services Network, said a "portable discount" offered to tenants would not help rural areas.
The groups said eight per cent of rural housing was classed as affordable, compared to 20 per cent in towns and cities. They warned landowners would be reluctant to offer land for social housing if there are no guarantees it will remain affordable and not be sold on in a few years.
The Wrekin Housing Trust, which has homes in Telford, Market Drayton and Shrewsbury, said it is too early to form a solid opinion on the matter. Wayne Gethings, managing director, said: "It's very early to take a view on this until we know more about the finer details of how the policy – if the government takes the NHF's proposal forward – will be implemented across both urban and rural areas. To say more at the moment would be speculation."
Aidan Ackerman, director of customer services at the Mid Wales Housing Association, added: "The administration of housing is different between England and Wales as housing is devolved. The majority of Mid Wales Housing Association's stock is in Wales. The fundamental problem is a shortage of housing."
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "We want to help anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home turn their dream into a reality.
The National Housing Federation has voted to take forward its proposal, which we will now consider."