Buying a council house and the Right to Buy scheme

You may be able to buy your council house at a huge discount using the government's Right to Buy scheme.

Think carefully before securing debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
The government’s Right to Buy scheme allows council or housing association tenants to buy their home at a huge discount.

You could be entitled to a discount worth 70% of the market value, capped at £80,900, or £108,000 in London.

To be entitled for the scheme, you’ll need to have lived in the property for at least three years. The longer you’ve lived there, the larger the discount you could be entitled to.

You can apply to buy your property using Right to Buy, via an online form on the government’s website. The application will be passed on to your landlord, who will respond to your offer within four weeks. If they agree to sell, they’ll confirm the property’s market value and the proposed discount.

From there, it’s up to you to find a mortgage for this amount. You have up to 12 weeks to accept this offer and provide the funding.

How much discount could I receive?

The discount will depend on the amount of time you’ve lived in the property, and whether it’s a house or a flat.

If you been living in a council house for three years, you’ll be entitled to a 35% Right to Buy discount. After five years, this discount increases by 1% per year, up to a maximum of 70%.

If you’ve been living in a council flat for three years, you’ll be entitled to a 50% Right to Buy discount. After five years, this discount increases by 2% per year, up to a maximum of 70%.

How to find a Right to Buy mortgage

Not all lenders offer mortgages under the Right to Buy scheme.

The best way to find the most suitable deal is to use a professional mortgage adviser. These individuals will be able to recommend the lenders most likely to work with someone in your financial situation.

There’s good news for applicants who have been able to save a sizeable mortgage deposit.

Some lenders will accept the Right to Buy discount as your deposit, on the condition that they’ll repossess the whole property if you fall behind on repayments.

Joint applications

You can make a joint application under Right to Buy, but only with:

  • Other tenants in your property.
  • A spouse or civil partner.
  • Family members who have lived in the property for at least 12 months.

Letting or selling a Right to Buy property

You can let out your property as soon as the mortgage has been finalised, although you’ll have to inform your council and there may be a one-off fee involved.

If you sell your property, you’ll have to repay a percentage of your discount.

  • After 1 year, you must repay 80%.
  • After 2 years, you must repay 60%.
  • After 3 years, you must repay 40%.
  • After 4 years, you must repay 20%.

If you’re selling the property after less than ten years of ownership, you must first offer it back to the council.

Using Right to Buy to purchase a housing association property

It’s possible to purchase a housing association property using Right to Buy, although this option is not as commonly available as it is for council properties.

If your property isn’t available through Right to Buy, investigate a similar scheme called Right to Acquire. You’ll apply using a separate form on the government website. Under this scheme, you’ll be eligible for a discount between £9,000 and £16,000, depending on the location of the property.

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