Do you have Right to Buy on your council home?

If you’re living in a council home, you may be eligible to purchase the property at a discount. The Right to Buy scheme for council and housing association tenants ended on 31 July 2016 in Scotland, but you may be eligible if you’re based in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you live in England, you could qualify if:

  • the property is your only home, or your main one
  • the property is self-contained
  • you’re a secure tenant
  • you’ve rented from a public sector landlord for three years.

If you’re buying a house in England, you’ll get a discount of 35% providing you’ve been a public sector tenant for between three and five years. There is an additional discount of 1% for every year after five – but this is capped at a maximum of 70%.

When it comes to council flats in England, you’ll get a 50% discount if you’ve been a public sector tenant for between three and five years. After five years, the discount goes up by 2% for each additional year, also up to a maximum of 70%.

You may want to note that the discount may be reduced if your landlord has spent money building up or maintaining your home. To make on offer, you’ll need to fill in a Right to Buy application form (RTB1 notice) and send it to your landlord. They must inform you of their decision within four weeks of receiving this.

Should you wish to sell your home in the first ten years after buying it, you’ll first have to offer it to your old landlord or another social landlord in the same area, at the full market price. If they don’t commit to buying it within eight weeks, you can sell it to anyone else. However, you’ll have to pay back some or all of the discount you received if you’re owned your home for less than five years. How much you’ll have to repay depends on how long you’ve lived there.

If you reside in Wales, you may be eligible if:

  • you’re a secure tenant of a local authority or non-charitable housing association, or
  • you’re an assured tenant ‘of registered social landlords (housing associations) who moved with their homes from a local authority as part of a stock transfer’.

The longer you’ve been a tenant, the larger a discount you could potentially obtain, but there is a limit of £8,000 in Wales.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you might be able to buy your council home if:

If you haven’t lived in your home for five full years you might still be able to qualify to buy it if, for example, in the case of your parent or partner being the previous tenant. A secure tenant who’s lived at there for at least five years can get 20% off the property’s market value. Beware, though: if you sell your home within five years after purchasing it, you’ll have to repay the full discount.

If you’re planning on purchasing your council home, you may need to borrow a mortgage from a lender. There are also many one-off costs and fees to consider too, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax. You might find it useful to check your Equifax Credit Report & Score (which is free for the first 30 days then £7.95 monthly) before applying for the home loan. The report shows you your borrowing history, whereas the score gives you an indication of how creditworthy lenders may find you.

Find out more about Right to Buy for council homes in:

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