Introduced in the 1980s, the Right to Buy scheme offered a generation of council tenants the legal right to buy their flats and houses. To make it easy for people to take advantage of the scheme, tenants were offered a discounted sale price depending on how long they had lived in their homes. In response, thousands took up the offer and Right to Buy transformed homeownership across the UK.
Fast forward to today, and there is growing interest in Right to Buy. Possibly because mortgage deals are becoming more attractive.
Who is eligible for the Right to Buy scheme?
You can apply to buy your council home if:
- It’s your only or main home
- It’s self-contained
- You are a secure tenant
- You have no legal issues with debt
- You have had a public sector landlord for three years (it doesn’t have to be three years in a row).
You can also make a joint application with:
- Someone who shares your tenancy
- Your spouse or civil partner
- Up to three family members who’ve lived with you for the past year (even if they don’t share your tenancy).
Right to Buy restrictions
Right to Buy is not available to people who part-own their home. But, if you are interested in this scheme, you might be able to buy the rest of your home from your landlord. Also, housing association tenants do not currently have the Right to Buy. But, if your home was transferred from a council to a housing association, you might have a ‘Preserved’ Right to Buy. The government also has plans to extend Right to Buy to more housing association tenants.
Being on benefits doesn’t affect your legal Right to Buy. But being a homeowner may affect your benefits.
What discounts are available?
Discounts range between 35% and 70% depending on how long you have lived in your home, how much the property is worth, and whether it is a flat or a house.
The maximum Right to Buy discount is currently £82,800 (£110,500 in London). This increases every year, and you can find out the current discounts available here. You can also use the government’s Right to Buy calculator to work out the discount you could receive.
You’ll usually have to repay some or all your discount if you sell your home within five years.
The problem with Right to Buy
Because it reduces the amount of publicly owned housing, there are criticisms that Right to Buy has contributed to the current UK housing shortage. In response, the Scottish and Welsh governments have both scrapped the scheme.
But there is no doubt that the policy has changed the lives of thousands of people – often for people who simply don’t have the money to buy homes privately. As such, Right to Buy remains one of the most affordable methods of helping people onto the property ladder.
Right to Buy buying a house process
To apply to buy your home, you must complete the Right to Buy application form and send it to your landlord. If your landlord agrees to sell, they’ll send you an offer. This will include the price they think you should pay and how this figure was worked out.
Landlords must respond to your offer within four weeks (eight if they’ve been your landlord for less than three years). You could get a reduction in the sale price if they do not. If your landlord says no, they must tell you why.
Using a solicitor to help get your first property
Like any home purchase, buying under the Right to Buy scheme can be a complex process. So, you should always use a licensed conveyancer. While this will incur some conveyancing costs, using specialist property solicitors will ensure that your rights are protected and that you don’t pay over the odds.
At Optimal Solicitors, we make the process affordable. And, rather than confusing you with legal jargon, we provide the very best legal advice delivered in plain English. Ultimately, we make sure that buying your home under Right to Buy is as quick and stress free as possible.