House keys on a keyring- right to buy

With increases in rent, many people cannot afford to get onto the property ladder. The Right to Buy scheme enables council and housing association tenants to buy the property they live in but are you eligible?

If you decide you’d like to buy your council property, there are procedures in place to enable you to do this.

What Is The Right To Buy Scheme?

The right to buy scheme was introduced in 1980 as a way for secure tenants of council and housing association homes to buy the property they live in at a discount. You can apply to buy your home even if you’re in rent arrears.

Who Can Do It?

There are different rules and procedures for people who live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Under the Right To Buy scheme, you can buy your council home if:

  • It’s your only home
  • It’s a self contained house (this means you rent the whole house and not just a room within it)
  • You’re a secure tenant
  • You’ve had a council, housing association or NHS trust landlord for 5 years.

If you live with someone and wish to make a joint application you can. You can jointly apply for the right to buy scheme with up to 3 members of your family, but they must have lived with you for the past 12 months. Alternatively, you can jointly apply to the right to buy scheme if you already have a shared tenancy with someone.

If you’re considering buying your property, seek independent housing advice first. If you’ve been made bankrupt or ordered to leave your home you will not be eligible for the scheme.

For more information, click here

Right to Acquire

The Right to Acquire is essentially the same thing as the right to buy, in that it allows you to buy your home at a discount. Right to Acquire refers to housing association tenants. To apply you must have had a public sector landlord for 5 years and your home must have been built or bought by the housing association after 1st April 1997. Your landlord also must have been registered with the homes and communities agency [http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/]

Right To Buy & Right To Acquire- The Difference

There is no real difference between right to buy and right to acquire. Right to buy is the term used for council tenants, whilst right to acquire is for housing association tenants.

Preserved Right To Buy

Preserved right to buy is where the home you were living in was owned by the council, who sold it to another landlord whilst you were still living there. You still have the right to buy, but must speak to your local council.

Discounts

If you decide you’d like to buy the property you live in, you can get a discounts on the market value of the property. The discount is based on the following criteria:

  • How long you’ve been a tenant
  • Whether you’re buying a flat or a house
  • The value of the property

If your landlord has completed work on the property such as building or maintenance work, this will impact your discount.

Once you’ve purchased the property, if you then want to sell it less than five years later you may have to repay your discount.

For a full list of discounts for your area, click here

Can You Afford It?

Throughout the right to buy scheme you are responsible for deciding if you can actually afford to buy your property. If you can’t, you could look at shared ownership, where you buy a share of the property and pay rent on the rest. More information can be found here. 

After Right To Buy- Selling Your Property

If you purchased your home after January 2005 and wish to now sell it, you must contact your old landlord and offer him first refusal. If you cannot contact your old landlord, you must contact the local housing authority.

The property can then be sold at full market price, as long as you and your old landlord agree. If you cannot reach an agreement, a district valuer will be brought in to value the property.

If your old landlord doesn’t agree to buy your property within 8 weeks, you may sell your home to anyone.

For more information on Right to Buy or Right to Acquire, click here