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 and how and when should you get a mortgage. If you are concerned that 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 leasehold 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 leasehold 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.
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.
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