In this article:
- The facts behind the ‘Right To Buy Scheme’
- Who is eligible and not eligible to buy under the scheme
- The application process
- Organisations to approach for help and advice
The ‘Right To Buy Scheme’ was officially introduced in the UK in 1980 and tenants of council homes can receive discounts of up to £100,000 in London and £75,000 in other parts of the UK.
It is also possible to buy your home with a joint tenant or up to three members of your family (if they have inhabited the property with you for at least a year). Tenants in housing associations can also buy their property if it was originally a council house.
You will be eligible to buy you council home if:
- You have been a council housing or social housing tenant for at least 5 years (though not necessarily in consecutive years)
- A tenant who is in the armed forces or a public body such as the NHS
You will NOT be eligible if:
- You have more than one home or the home isn’t the one you reside in mostly
- You don’t have a self-contained kitchen or bathroom that you don’t share with others
- You are in debt or are bankrupt
- You are a resident in sheltered housing
- You live in a home that has been adapted for people with a disability or special needs
When you apply for the right to buy your council home
To apply to buy your council home you need to fill out form (RTB1) and submit it to the council who is obliged to notify you of their decision within 4-8 weeks. You can collect the form from your council or download it from the Gov.uk website.
If your application is successful the council will give you all the information you need to progress with the purchase such as:
- How much the property is worth
- The discount you will receive and how that figure was calculated
- Terms and conditions relevant to the sale
- A structural report highlighting any defects/problems
- Service charges that may apply to your council home if it is a flat
Discounts applied to council house purchase
How much discount you might get depends on such things as the age and state of repair of your home, the length of time you have been a council tenant and whether you live in a flat or house.
The discount is worked out following an assessment by a valuer. The council then offers you the chance to buy your home at whatever they decide to set the reduced price at.
The current maximum discount of £100,000 for homes in London and £75,000 elsewhere was set in April 2013. Check out Gov.uk to find out more about the discounts.
Things to consider before applying under the right to buy scheme
Firstly, TTV recommends any tenant contemplating buying their home from the council to think very carefully about whether they are ready for home-ownership and whether they can afford to buy the property, as well as paying all the on-going costs that automatically come after that – maintenance, repairs, insurance, the utility bills etc. Click here to access the Right to Buy Calculator to work out whether you can afford to buy your council house. It’s a big step and everyone aspiring to buy a home needs to realise the enormity of it.
It is also important to know that if you decide to sell your council home bought under the right to buy scheme within the first 10 years, you will have to repay some of the discount or maybe even all of it.
Where to go for further help and advice:
If the thought of owning your council home appeals to you and you believe you are in a good position to buy it and secure a mortgage, as well as afford the day-to-day/year-to-year running of it, then you can seek further advice to ensure you know exactly what is involved from the Right To Buy, Citizen’s Advice, Shelter and Gov.uk websites:
- Tenants need to pass an eligibility test to be considered as a buyer of a council home
- There are many ongoing costs associated with home ownership and all should be carefully considered when contemplating the right to buy scheme
- It is a good idea to seek further advice and guidance from support organisations when considering applying for the right to buy scheme
- You may have to pay back some or all of the discount should you sell the council home you bought within the first 10 years of purchase
This article is provided as a guide. Any information should be used for research purposes and not as the base for taking legal action. The Tenants' Voice does not provide legal advice and our content does not constitute a client-solicitor relationship.
We advise all tenants to act respectfully with their landlords and letting agents and seek a peaceful resolution to problems with their rented property. For more information, explore the articles in our All advice category.
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