Right to Buy allows most council tenants to buy their council home in the UK at a discount. Information in this article specifically implies to England, there are different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Note: The Right to Buy and associated rights ended in Wales on the 26 January 2019. The Right to Buy scheme ended for council and housing association tenants in Scotland on 31 July 2016. The Scheme is still ongoing in Northern Ireland (click here for details).
You can apply to buy your council home in England if:
- it’s your only or main home
- it’s self-contained
- you’re a secure tenant
- you’ve had a public sector landlord (for example, a council, housing association or NHS trust) for 3 years – it does not have to be 3 years in a row
You can make a joint application with:
- someone who shares your tenancy
- up to 3 family members who’ve lived with you for the past 12 months (even if they do not share your tenancy)
If your home used to be owned by the council, but they sold it to another landlord (like a housing association) while you were living in it, you may have the Right to Buy. This is called ‘Preserved Right to Buy’.
Ask your landlord if this applies to you.
Also If you were not living in your home when it was sold by the council you may still be able to buy it through the Voluntary Right to Buy pilot.
There are different discount levels for houses and flats.
You get a 35% discount if you’ve been a public sector tenant for between 3 and 5 years.
After 5 years, the discount goes up by 1% for every extra year you’ve been a public sector tenant, up to a maximum of 70% – or £82,800 across England and £110,500 in London boroughs (whichever is lower).
You get a 50% discount if you’ve been a public sector tenant for between 3 and 5 years.
After 5 years, the discount goes up by 2% for every extra year you’ve been a public sector tenant, up to a maximum of 70% – or £82,800 across England and £110,500 in London boroughs (whichever is lower).
- Fill in the Right to Buy application form (RTB1 notice).
- Send it to your landlord.
- Your landlord must say yes or no within 4 weeks of getting your application (8 weeks if they’ve been your landlord for less than 3 years). If your landlord says no, they must say why.
- 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 you sell your home within 10 years of buying it through Right to Buy, you must first offer it to either:
- your old landlord
- another social landlord in the area
You’ll have to pay back some or all of the discount you got if you sell your Right to Buy home within 5 years of buying it.
You’ll have to pay back all of the discount if you sell within the first year. After that, the total amount you pay back reduces to:
- 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
The amount you pay back depends on the value of your home when you sell it.
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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP