Right to Buy is a housing scheme that allows some council house and housing association tenants to buy their home at a discounted price. Variations of the scheme are available in England and Northern Ireland. The scheme is no longer running in Scotland or Wales.
To be eligible for Right to Buy, you must have lived in the property for at least three years and use it as your main home.
You can apply if you rent from the council, a housing association, NHS trust or a public sector landlord. Properties let by private landlords are not included.
The maximum Right to Buy discount in England is 70% off the current market value of your home, with a maximum discount of £110,500 in the London boroughs and £82,800 for the rest of England. At the start of each tax year on 6 April, the discount in England increases in line with the consumer price index (CPI).
In Northern Ireland the discount only goes up to £24,000.
The discount may be smaller if you have used Right to Buy before, or your landlord has spent money building or maintaining your home.
You can get an estimate of the discount with the government’s Right to Buy calculator.
The Right to Buy discount is based on:
For joint applications, the discount is calculated on the applicant with the longest tenancy. The tenancies of all the applicants are not added together for a greater total.
If you’ve lived in a council or housing association house for three to five years, you could get 35% off the market value price of your property.
After five years, the discount goes up by 1% each year up to a maximum of 70%. To get the full discount on a house, you need to have lived there for 40 years.
You could get up to 50% off the current market value of your social housing flat if you’ve lived there for three to five years.
After five years, the discount goes up by 2% for each year you’ve lived there, up to a maximum of 70%. To get the maximum discount on a flat, you need to have lived there for 15 years.
To be eligible for Right to Buy, you should:
For joint applications:
You may be excluded from Right to Buy if:
Associate director at London & Country Mortgages – a free online mortgage broker – David Hollingworth says: “In terms of arranging a mortgage, this should not be difficult. Most lenders will be comfortable lending on Right to Buy properties and this includes the high street names as well as the smaller building societies.
“Quite a few lenders are prepared to offer the full 100% loan on the discounted price of the property,” he says. “The buyer is paying below market value so their risk is not 100% of the full value of the property.”
Halifax, Barclays and Santander offer Right to Buy mortgages, but not all lenders do.
The Right to Buy process is as follows:
If your landlord holds up the sale or valuation without good reason, you could get a reduction in the sale price. This is why it is important to keep proof of postage and receipt of all documents. You’ll need to fill in a RTB6 form and and send it to your landlord.
Holding up progress at your end means your landlord has the right to cancel the purchase. But they should warn you first and give you due notice. Aim to keep the landlord informed if, for example, you are having trouble obtaining a mortgage.
You’ll usually have to repay some or all of the discount if you sell your Right to Buy home within five years of buying it. Transferring ownership to a family member means you could avoid this.
If you sell your home within 10 years, you must first offer it to either your old landlord or another social landlord in the area.
You’ll have to sell it at the full market price as agreed by you and your lender. You can call in a district valuer for an independent valuation.
If after eight weeks, your landlord or another social landlord does not take up your offer, you can sell your home to anyone on the open market.
Edited by: Sarah Guershon
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Last updated: 18 July, 2019