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Buying your council house: Right to Buy explained

This government scheme gives people the chance to buy the council house they are currently renting at a discounted rate. This guide explains the scheme, who is eligible, how to apply and next steps and things to watch

What is it?

The Right To Buy scheme allows secure tenants of council homes and housing association properties to buy their home with a significant discount. Approximately 2 million home have been sold in this way over the last 30 years

The maximum discount is:

  • £100,000 in London
  • £75,000 in rest of England
  • £16,000 in Wales
  • £24,000 in Northern Ireland

The discount is based on:

  • how long you’ve been a tenant with a public sector landlord
  • the type of property you’re buying (a flat or a house)
  • the value of your home

Use this calculator to work how much discount you are due

Am I eligible?

If you answer yes to the following questions you are probably eligible:

  • Is the home you wish to buy your only, or main home?
  • Are you a council tenant or were when you home was sold to your current landlord?
  • Have you been a council tenant for at least five years (it doesn’t have to be five years in a row)?
  • Can you confirm that your home is not sheltered or other housing suitable for elderly of disabled people?
  • Can you confirm that you have no legal problems with debt?
  • Can you confirm you have no outstanding possession orders against you?
  • Can you confirm that your home is not due for demolition?

Should I do it?

There are a few issues you will want to think about before buying your council home

Can you afford it?

There are risks to owning a home and it is important to get independent mortgage advice to help you decide if you can afford to buy.  Some mortgage lenders may require a deposit, whereas others may be satisfied with the equity in your home. Our buying guides  are here to help you decide whether you can afford to buy, how mortgages work and how and when should you get a mortgage.  If you are concerned about you have a poor credit rating, there are ways you can improve your credit rating before applying for a mortgage.

The Real Costs

If you are buying a leashold property there will be on-going maintenance costs to consider. If your property is part of a block you may have to pay a contribution to any works the Council decides to do to shared or common areas. Read our guides on the hidden costs of buying and on the difference between leashold and freehold properties

Selling your home afterwards

If you sell your home within five years of purchasing it you will have to repay the discount.

If you sell your home within 10 years of buying it through Right to Buy, you must first offer it to either to your old landlord or another social landlord in the area.

If you sell within the first year, you’ll have to pay back all of the discount. On top of this, the amount you pay back depends on the value of your home when you sell it. So, if you got a 20% discount, you’ll have to pay back 20% of the selling price.

If you sell after the first year, the total amount you pay back reduces. You pay back:

  • 80% of the discount in the second year
  • 60% of the discount in the third year
  • 40% of the discount in the fourth year
  • 20% of the discount in the fifth year

How do I apply?

  • Fill in this form 
  • Send it to your landlord. They will say yes or no within four weeks
  • If your landlord agrees to sell, they’ll send you an offer. They must do this within 8 weeks of saying yes if you’re buying a freehold property, or 12 weeks if you’re buying a leasehold property.

Your offer

If your application has been accepted your landlord will set out in writing:

  • How much they think you should pay and how the figure was worked out
  • A description of the property and any land that is included
  • Estimates of any service charges (if it is a flat or maisonette) for the next five years
  • any known problems with the property’s structure, eg subsidence

If you are happy with this you have 12 weeks to accept. If you disagree with anything your landlord has said write to them within three months and ask for an independent valuation.

What next?

If you wish to accept the offer, you will need to arrange for a mortgage and to instruct a solicitor.  See our step-by-step guide to buying a home

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  1. Dear Syed,

    Thanks for your query, please have a look at our recent article’s:
    Helping our members – when Right to Buy turns sour
    Do also have a look at our useful guide: http://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-buying/right-to-buy/.

    Wish you the best of luck with your move.

    Kind regards,

    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — October 13, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

  2. Hi
    It’s been nearly a year now I’ve purchased my council property through Right to Buy Scheme. As circumstance has changed due to my job is relocating to the Head Office which is another district, therefore my family has to move to a new home. Therefore I have to sell my current home to purchase new property.
    So I understand that I’ve received a big discount from my Council to purchase my property, but If I sell my property later this year which falls in the second year. Do I need to payback remaining discount straightaway to the council or can I organise a payment plan scheme. I understand there will be equity on my home, which will help me towards the deposit of the new purchase. The reason of the help is the price value of his houses in another district is far difference from my current home.
    So will the council accept a payback scheme for the remaining the discount to be paid back?

    Comment by Syed Miah — October 12, 2016 @ 10:00 am

  3. Dear Stephen,

    Thanks for your query. You should check with your landlord such as the local authority or housing association to ensure that you can do this, to check what timescales are applicable and that you do not breach any of their terms and conditions. Do also have a look at a reply to a question raised with one of our experts: Can I rent out my right to buy flat?

    Kind regards,

    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — September 13, 2016 @ 2:37 pm

  4. if i buy my flat how long must keep it before i could rent it

    Comment by stephen jackson — September 10, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  5. I own a third of a shared ownership property with a housing association, would I be eligible for a right to buy discount on the remaining two thirds as I have lived there for 10 years and would like to buy the rest?
    I would be grateful for any information you can give me.
    Many thanks

    Comment by Jacqui creed — September 7, 2016 @ 1:07 pm

  6. My mother has occupied her council home for 64 years and qualifies for the maximum discount.

    She expressed a wish to pass on the house to me, however, I don’t live with her and have not intention to in the short term so I couldn’t buy it with her. She is 90 years old and claims Housing/Council Tax Benefit so is unable to purchase the house with her own funds. After taking advice I discovered that she could be loaned the money in order to buy it outright without a mortgage and that through creating a “Deed of Trust” she could pass on the property to whoever she wished after her death to bypassing any last will and testament she has made.

    We’re in the final stages of the RTB process, have the Section 125, and our solicitor is almost ready for my mother to sign the required paperwork before the monies are transferred.

    Now, I am an Assured tenant of a Housing Association property and am in a Civil Partnership, but do not have a joint tenancy with my partner. My mother’s property is approximately 100 miles away from my HA property. Were he to lend the money (£37,500 is the cost after discount) to my mother in order to buy the property and pass it on to both my Civil Partner and me after her death, would there be any implications regarding my tenancy in the Housing Association property I occupy?

    The “Deed of Trust” could either bestow my mother’s property to me, my partner or, more likely, both of us, and I want to make sure that there’ll be no problems in the event of my mother’s death and consequent ownership of the property.

    I want to know what potential pitfalls, if any, might appear were we to go ahead and my mother bought her property. She suffers from early stage dementia and requires carers 3 to 4 times a day. I’m aware that her condition could deteriorate where she may need 24 hour care and I’m looking at the possibility of me providing that care as she has consistently stated that she never wants to go into residential care. I have Power of Attorney over both financial and health/welfare for my mother, but the officer from the RTB section of the council warned me that if she had to go into residential care within the 5 year period after purchasing her property then the discount would have to repaid. I realise that once purchased all Housing/Council Tax benefits will cease and full payment for her existing care package will be necessary.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Andrew Brown — August 14, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

  7. There’s a question from Nicola Miller asking if it’s possible for her to buy her parents’ bungalow for them. This crops up a lot around RTB and it’s rarely that people get given the right information.

    The only person(s) who can buy the property are the; tenants/spouse etc/up to 3 family members who have lived there in the previous 12 months. Their names can be legally attached to the purchase.

    Nicola cannot legally buy the property on their behalf if she lives elsewhere. If there’s a separate “hidden” legal agreement that says someone else is to get the benefit of the property at some future date then the discount is not due and must be repaid. There are also problems with a secret agreement – if things go pear shaped between the borrower and the lender then getting it enforced by a court when the object of the agreement is to defeat another bit of law that’s designed to prevent it from happening will be “difficult”.

    The only way for Nicola to help to buy the property in a way that is legal and doesn’t void the discount is for her to lend her parents the money to buy the bungalow with a legal charge. Just say it’s worth £100K after the discount. She lends them that money by way of an agreement that charges her parents interest. The agreement should also state that no interest or capital is payable until the property is sold. It should also state that the maximum amount of interest and capital under the terms of the loan that will be repayable will not exceed the net sale price of the bungalow (if there are other children then that bit is important as they could see their share of any other assets – say a bank account – being taken by one child to meet a shortfall if there is one and that won’t be good for family relations). There can also be a provision that enables her parents to transfer the loan and property to a smaller property if needed. She can also offer a further advance to have a conservatory built – under the same rolled up interest/capital repayments arrangement.

    How does Nicola get her money back? She charges interest on the loan. If she charges 10% then the amount her parents will owe after year 1 will be £110,000. After year 2 it will be £121,000. After year 3 it will be £133,100. At year 7 it will be £194,871.71. The interest rate can be whatever is reasonable. What she’s lent will roughly double every 7.5 years – less with a higher interest rate. That’s rolled up and she won’t see it until the bugalow is sold. Her parents are protected as the terms of the loan mean that they repay nothing until their deaths and it won’t exceed the sale price of their home..

    The loan isn’t regulated as is not a loan that’s given by someone in the course of a business. It can be done legally and above board but make sure that your parents AND you are both protected. Every eventuality has to be taken care of. Who will do the repairs? Nicola may die before her parents. Will whoever becomes the main beneficiary of Nicola’s will be as warm and loving towards her family as she is? Her parents have to be able to say “there’s the agreement and we’re safe in out home, or another home, until we die”.

    Take legal advice.

    Comment by Ted — August 7, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  8. if my mum buys her council house does the house have to stay in her name for the five years not selling it but giving it to one of her children

    Comment by loxy — April 17, 2016 @ 6:11 pm

  9. Hi I am wanting to buy my parents council bungalow for them and make some changes to the property ie. a conservatory and a new usable kitchen as my father is disabled and to just make it generally nicer for them as they are aged over 70 and was wondering if this is possible.
    They have lived in the property for over ten years.

    Comment by Nicola Miller — March 26, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

  10. Hi I have been a council tenant in a flat for past 6 years and had a 4 year tenancy a few years before that. I am about to move from my council flat to a council house with a lump sum in my pocket due to a berievment. Will I be able to buy as soon as I get into my new house as I am staying with same council ?

    Comment by Ian — March 11, 2016 @ 1:05 am

  11. I have owned a council property for 9 years , are the council actively buying back any council properties under the 1st refusal 10year policy, if I wish to sell it within the ten year period?

    Comment by Shane Scrivener — March 9, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

  12. Hello to you
    I have been living with camden council house for 3 years When I move in 2013 they told me after five years you have the right to apply to buy it.
    Would you be able to let me know as soon as possible please and if I am eligible right to buy after three years can let me know please

    Comment by xhemil ferizi — February 29, 2016 @ 11:38 am

  13. Once I have bought my Council property, can I rent it out during the first 5 year period?

    Comment by Soni — February 21, 2016 @ 7:54 pm

  14. Can I buy my council house,lived in it for twenty years, then let it out?
    In Scotland a reply to this question would be appreciated please

    Comment by Wendy clnk — February 16, 2016 @ 7:02 pm

  15. Im thinking of buying my council can I rent it out within the 5 year period? –

    Comment by Moks — February 12, 2016 @ 11:42 am

  16. Can i rent the property out once i have purchased it?

    Comment by Leanne mappley — January 28, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

  17. Can you rent it out once you have bought

    Comment by D Bell — January 12, 2016 @ 3:50 pm

  18. I have had my house valued twice before and I am on the 3rd time at the moment but can’t get the money till the end of the year and I have 6 weeks to get back to them is this my final chance or can I still do it after this time expires? Many thanks

    Comment by Leon — January 4, 2016 @ 5:35 pm

  19. My Uncles have lived in a property for over 40 years. Just bought the property in Dec 2014, One of my Uncles died in February, the other Uncle has had to go into a residential care home with dementia will we have to sell the home back to the council how does this work?

    Comment by sharon Stanley — December 8, 2015 @ 6:47 pm

  20. I have lived in estauryHousing Association for 16 years I like to find out if I’m eligible to buy it.

    Comment by Miss rye — November 29, 2015 @ 11:08 pm

  21. hi does anybody know the discount on buying your council house lived in this house 29 years but having no luck to the discount .just need rough idea as been told so many different prices.need to find somebody that has purchased one.many thanks

    Comment by kel — November 10, 2015 @ 1:32 pm

  22. My father has had council property for 45 year he’s wanting to buy for grandson as he lives with him would he be able to buy with help off his daughter as this has been his home for 40 year and what discount is he entitled to thanks x

    Comment by Sarah ashman — November 5, 2015 @ 11:13 pm

  23. This is for the likes of sour individuals like @Matt. Thankfully the decision doesn’t rest with you and I hope that Paul B is successful in renting out his rightfully deserved council flat and is able to move on with his family to larger premises. I detect a bit of the green-eyed monster Matt. Horrible of you to wish someone else ill in such a way.

    Comment by roseblume — November 3, 2015 @ 4:37 pm

  24. Hi
    I had a council property for 3 years. Then moved to housing association for 12 years and am in the process of swapping back to a council home with the intention of buying. Will all the years I’ve been in both properties count towards a discount when using right to buy?

    Comment by Laura — October 20, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  25. To add to my post Paul you said council relocation takes forever….do you not think this is a direct factor as to why the council rehouse you quick enough?

    Comment by Matt — October 15, 2015 @ 9:56 am

  26. Re: Paul B. Why are still living in a one bedroom flat with 3 kids, you are overcrowded yet you’re asking to buy it so you can rent it out immediately? I think that is very greedy as you are cashing in on a property you are not even eligible for….the reason we have this housing crisis to begin with. I hope you are refused personally!

    Comment by Matt — October 15, 2015 @ 9:51 am

  27. My council flat has been over priced what can I do

    Comment by Mr m s j — October 13, 2015 @ 10:43 am

  28. hello
    If i buy my one bed flat from the council and bearing i have a partner and 3 kids leaving there also, can i buy it and rent it out straight away as its too small.
    will i be penalized for doing so. relocation would have been ideal but it takes forever!!


    Comment by Paul B — October 6, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

  29. I am 68 can I still buy my counsel flag,been in it twenty years.

    Comment by Mr tole — August 23, 2015 @ 1:38 pm

  30. Hi – a little advice needed.
    I’m looking to buy my council house – we’ve been here for just over 3 years but I lived with my parents in a council house for 18 years – can I use this time as part of my application?
    Thanks in advance

    Comment by Danny — August 18, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

  31. Hi,
    My mother has been living in her council house for almost 50 years. About 23 years ago the council added a downstairs bedroom and bathroom as my mother became disabled. Will she be able to buy the house?

    Many thanks

    Comment by Lee — August 12, 2015 @ 9:43 am

  32. I bought my council flat nearly 2 years, can I rent it out within the 2 year period?

    Comment by Arjeta — August 5, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

  33. I have been living in my council house for the last 12 years,but due to illness I had to leave work,but if my daughters work can they help me buy.

    Comment by parminder — July 28, 2015 @ 11:15 pm

  34. can you rent your council house in the first two years

    Comment by smith — July 27, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

  35. Hi I am wondering if any one could help me . My grandfather has been a council tenant for over 50 years so he is entitled to the highest discount .Me and my husband would like to buy the house to keep it in the family – would this be possible to buy it with he’s discount ?? Many thanks

    Comment by Sara — July 23, 2015 @ 8:14 am

  36. I have 30 years in one council property and 10 years in another council property what discount will i get

    Comment by Helen Jones — July 17, 2015 @ 7:06 am

  37. I have lived with my parents in this house since 1985 I became the tenant after my mother died in 2014. Could I get a smaller discount when this is taken in to consideration.

    Comment by Andrew Fitzgerald — July 9, 2015 @ 10:10 am

  38. I have been a tenent for 30 years how much discount would i get .

    Comment by Jane Gordon — May 31, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  39. i,ve been a council tenant for 30 years.20 years with one council and 10 years with another wot discount will i get?as i want to buy my council house.

    Comment by beverley marshall — May 23, 2015 @ 8:18 pm

  40. what sort of deposit would be required.I am buying my property of the council,it works out at approx 53,000(a flat).Could anyone help with my query.Also has anyone RTB through Barclays,as they are who i bank with

    thanks for any help

    Comment by james walton — May 11, 2015 @ 12:09 pm

  41. Hi im disabled in a disabled bunglow 27 years
    Council tenant
    Can i buy my disabled bunglow

    Comment by Dee — April 28, 2015 @ 7:45 pm

  42. @phil Fryer I woudl go for an appointment at your local citizens advice in some cases they can talk to the council direct or negotiate on your behalf.

    Comment by joe — April 12, 2015 @ 8:23 pm

  43. Im thinking of buying my council can I rent it out within the 5 year period?

    Comment by H Gray — March 31, 2015 @ 8:22 am

  44. I am a counsil tenant for over 15 years.
    Can i buy the flat?
    Where do i find the value of the property?
    Thank you.

    Comment by Jaime Gouveia — March 25, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

  45. Thinking of purchasing my council house but finding it a bit confusing as to where to start

    Comment by Suzanne healey — March 16, 2015 @ 11:43 am

  46. Once I have bought my Council property, can I rent it out during the first 5 year period?

    Comment by David Beal — February 7, 2015 @ 11:49 am

  47. hi there,
    I have been living in this council house for about 4 years and 8 months and I was wondering if I have the right to apply to buy it.
    Would you be able to let me know as soon as possible please and if I am eligible can you send me the forms please.

    Comment by Ismail Beqa — February 5, 2015 @ 9:09 pm

  48. after renting for over 15 years and at the age of 55 i decided to buy my flat, over 7 years it would be paid off, however dec 2014 the bank that i had worked for decided to end my employment after 12 years on the grounds of capability i have a lower back problem that is being managed but thats another story…. i cannot find and help any where for people in my position,,, no job,,, less than 10% likely hood of ever having one again and no where to go. I thought i would retire after 42 years of working ‘so far’ with a nice flat and inheritance for my children and no debts,, now i will be evicted within the next 6 months and have a ccj for a loan i cannot pay and no where to live. i will make it to the end of 2 years into my right to buy. if i sell ill be making myself homeless so the council will not re-home me, if i don’t sell it will be repossessed after a lengthy time in which the bank will load it up with sol fees, home visit charges and non payment charges. so i will lose any value left at all. I am very very scared… can any one advise..

    Comment by phil Fryer — January 20, 2015 @ 3:08 pm

  49. Useful guide, but you haven’t covered the Right to Acquire scheme. Although it is very similar the discounts are considerably smaller.
    Question. Can a Social Landlord selling a freehold property under the RTA scheme include a service charge in the lease when the property is a house, not a flat or maisonette?

    Thank you

    Comment by Jane Marshall — December 8, 2014 @ 11:49 pm

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