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Council Houses - Your Right to Buy

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 16 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Rights Council House Housing

For many years council or social housing was one of the backbones of British living. But since the middle of the 1980s there’s been a move to sell off much of the stock of council houses to the people who live in them as part of the movement towards private ownership.Since the big initial sell-off, which saw people who’d never dreamed of it before owning their own properties, it’s something that’s continued, and if you’re a council tenant, you may very well be eligible to own your house or flat. The really good news is that, if you qualify, you’ll be able to buy it at a discount.

Who Qualifies?

You have the right to buy your council property if you’ve been a secure tenant for more than two years (if you moved in after 18 January 2005 you won’t be eligible until 2010). The property must be self-contained and be your only home.

Housing association tenants might also have the same right, but that’s more dependent on circumstances. The property would need to have originally been a council property, with the ownership transferred to the association. You would also need to have been the tenant before and after the transfer occurred. Then, and only then, you may qualify for what’s called a Preserved Right to Buy.

There are some points that are worth knowing beforehand, though. If you’re on housing benefit to help pay your rent, you’d lose that if you were an owner-occupier. Income support might be possible, but it would take 39 weeks to come through.

If there’s a possession order against you regarding the home, if you’re an undischarged bankrupt or have a pending bankruptcy petition, or you have an arrangement with creditors but have paid all your debts, you’re not eligible under the scheme.

Something to remember is that if you buy a council house, you get the freehold. With a flat you obtain the leasehold, but you will probably also have to pay a service charge – how much will depend on the building and the council.

Discounts

To make the proposition of buying your council house more attractive, they’re sold at a discount. How much less you pay varies, and there are definite monetary limits. Understandably, the longer you’ve been a tenant, the less you’ll pay. The discount is from the market value of the house, which will obviously vary from area to area.

If you’ve been in your house or flat for five years, you qualify for a 35% discount – which is a very healthy figure. But it gets better; if you’ve spent 20 years in the property (and many have) the amount rises to 50%.

Each area has a maximum figure, and it can go from £16,000-38,000, but you’ll need to contact your own council for more exact percentages and figures. The discount might also be affected by the amount (if any) the council or landlord has spent on the house for repairs and improvements.

One thing you need to remember is that, if you buy the property and sell it within five years, you’ll need to repay part or the entire discount you were given. This discourages speculation, and makes sure there’s a continuity of residency. If you want to sell within 10 years you’ll need to offer it at market value to the council or housing association, or another body mandated by the Secretary of State.

Moving Ahead

The first step you’ll need to take is to fill out an application form, which can be downloaded or obtained from your council or housing association. After it’s been reviewed, you’ll receive a Section 125 notice if you qualify to buy. It will detail the market value, any structural problems, what discount you’ll qualify for, and what you might have to pay in service charges and improvements over the next five years, as well as any terms on conditions that might apply to the sale. If you disagree, you can appeal to the District Valuer. However, be warned: his decision is final, and if he comes up with a higher price for the house, that’s what you’ll have to pay.

After receiving the Section 125 notice (or the Valuer’s figure) you’ll have 12 weeks to decide whether you want to go ahead with the purchase. You should have the property surveyed and talk to a number of lenders before making your final decision.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
sam - Your Question:
Hi am I entitled to buy my flat I live in but I also have a House on mortgage I have lived in this flat for 8 years. thanks

Our Response:
One of the questions asked when you apply to buy is: "Is the property you main and only home" - this suggests that some local authorties/housing associations will not allow RTB if you already own another property. Mortgage providers are not always willing to lend on two properties either, so you'd need to look into that.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 17-Nov-17 @ 10:22 AM
Hi am I entitled to buy my flat I live in but i also have a House on mortgage I have lived in this flat for 8 years. thanks
sam - 16-Nov-17 @ 1:01 AM
Shontelley - Your Question:
I currently live with my half sister in a council property that was transferred to her when her mum died. (We have the same dad) I have lived with her for over 10 years now but was not on the tenancy. she is considering moving in with her partner but says she will transfer the tenancy to me. I wanted to know is it possible for her to transfer the tenancy to me and if so will the right to buy be voided ?

Our Response:
You will need to ask your council's housing officer about this.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 3-Nov-17 @ 10:02 AM
I currently live with my half sister in a council property that was transferred to her when her mum died. (We have the same dad) I have lived with her for over 10 years now but was not on the tenancy. she is considering moving in with her partner but says she will transfer the tenancy to me. I wanted to know is it possible for her to transfer the tenancy to me and if so will the right to buy be voided ?
Shontelley - 2-Nov-17 @ 12:32 AM
Ticketyboo - Your Question:
Hi, I bought my council house in Wales using the right to buy back in April 2007 (over 10yrs ago). I am now in process of looking at a further advance from mortgage lender. They have said I need a letter of postponement from local authority of the second charge on property. I can only think this is/was the clauses of paying back some % over 5 yrs if you sold within that time? I have contacted council and they are requesting a valuation of property and asking how much I'm borrowing! I questioned this and was told this is so they can "ensure that there is sufficient equity left in the property amounting to more than 30% - which is what the Council's Charge equates to". Can you tell me if this is right and what it means considering it's been over 10yrs? My understanding was the house would now be all mine yet this makes me feel I am bound to them somehow. Added with this the discount I got did not equate to 30% of property value so am feeling perplexed and frustrated!! Can you shed any light? Thanks

Our Response:
Did you ever receive a grant for any adaptations or improvements such as disabled facilities grant, are there any CCJs, non payment of council tax etc (don't forget parts of Wales charge an extra 50% council tax for second homes) which could have resulted in a charging order? It may be to do with the discount but the easiest way to find out is to check with the Land Registry. Your council's right to buy officer will be able to explain any discount repayment to you.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Sep-17 @ 2:36 PM
lisab454 - Your Question:
Hello,I'm just wondering if I swap my council home for another in a different part of the country by mutual exchange, will I still be eligible for the RTB discount that I built up during my time in the first location?Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
The RTB would usually transfer with you as long as you transfer to another council and you are a secured tenant in both cases. Check with the RTB officer at your proposed new council location.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 27-Sep-17 @ 12:25 PM
Hi, I bought my council house in Wales using the right to buy back in April 2007 (over 10yrs ago). I am now in process of looking at a further advance from mortgage lender. They have said I need a letter of postponement from local authority of the second charge on property . I can only think this is/was the clauses of paying back some % over 5 yrs if you sold within that time?. I have contacted council and they are requesting a valuation of property and asking how much I'm borrowing! I questioned this and was told this is so they can "ensure that there is sufficient equity left in the property amounting to more than 30% - which is what the Council's Charge equates to". Can you tell me if this is right and what it means considering it's been over 10yrs? My understanding was the house would now be all mine yet this makes me feel I am bound to them somehow. Added with this the discount I got did not equate to 30% of property value so am feeling perplexed and frustrated!! Can you shed any light? Thanks
Ticketyboo - 25-Sep-17 @ 8:31 PM
Hello, I'm just wondering if I swap my council home for another in a different part of the country by mutual exchange, will I still be eligible for the RTB discount that I built up during my time in the first location? Thanks in advance.
lisab454 - 25-Sep-17 @ 4:15 PM
My mother wants to buy her council house but has been told she will have to have her original tenancy agreement ( from 1959's) Do you know where she can obtain a copy? A housing trust has run the estate for the past 18 years. Thank you.
Rita Wilson - 19-Sep-17 @ 12:12 PM
Dylan - Your Question:
Hi,I'm going to try and cut the back stories as much as possible, in short my Nan who is now retired currently lives in a council house and has been a tennant there for over 20 years. She has told me many times that I should look at buying the property using her discount because she has thrown away so much money paying the rent (only recently retired) amounting to more then the property's value. My parents recently moved out 100 miles away and my Nan is looking at applying for a new tennature local to them to be with her young grandson. She and I wanted to know if it would be possible for me to use her right to buy on the current property she is in (I understand she would need to be on the documents but can release her share in 3-5 years or put me in the will) and if she would still be eligible to be on the councils waiting list for a property closer to her family.I understand that it's a more complicated question but what I'm trying to ask is would the council rehouse a 68 year old if she was recently on mortgage documents (not necessarily owning any percentage).Please don't just take a guess at this one, I'm after someone that knows what they are talking about. Take into account she has basically already paid for the house twice over and just wants to be with her family but not throw away her right to buy after spending so many years amassing it.

Our Response:
You should seek advice from your council's right to buy officer, or similar professional for individual advice like this. You should also investigate the lettings policy of the council in the area where your nan wants to move to. Some things to note:
The title deeds will have to be in your Nan's name
A mortgage provider might only lend to the person whose name is on the title deeds
If the house is sold within five years, the discount has to be repaid and landlord might have to be given the first right of refusal
When she makes an application for council housing in a new area, the fact that she is home owner make affect her "priority" status on the waiting list
ConsumerRightsExpert - 18-Sep-17 @ 11:58 AM
Hi, I'm going to try and cut the back stories as much as possible, in short my Nan who is now retired currently lives in a council house and has been a tennant there for over 20 years. She has told me many times that I should look at buying the property using her discount because she has thrown away so much money paying the rent (only recently retired) amounting to more then the property's value. My parents recently moved out 100 miles away and my Nan is looking at applying for a new tennature local to them to be with her young grandson. She and I wanted to know if it would be possible for me to use her right to buy on the current property she is in (I understand she would need to be on the documents but can release her share in 3-5 years or put me in the will) and if she would still be eligible to be on the councils waiting list for a property closer to her family. I understand that it's a more complicated question but what I'm trying to ask is would the council rehouse a 68 year old if she was recently on mortgage documents (not necessarily owning any percentage). Please don't just take a guess at this one, I'm after someonethat knows what they are talking about. Take into account she has basically already paid for the house twice over and just wants to be with her family but not throw away her right to buy after spending so many years amassing it.
Dylan - 15-Sep-17 @ 5:53 PM
Hi I currently am living with a life long friend of the family that I have known for over 20 years I've lived with him for nearly 8 years my name is not on the tenancy agreement. He has lived in his council house for 30 years + he has been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer and feels he will die soon this will sadly leave me homeless he wants the right to buy his home, and wants me to be a partner in this, when he dies his wishes in his will is for me to take over the mortgage is this possible? And is this possible for me to go as a mortgage partner as I will be paying all the mortgage repayments and I will pay the deposit for the mortgage? Please help! Thanks
Sev - 6-Sep-17 @ 6:35 PM
Tony flamingo - Your Question:
Hi just a question if anyone can help.Last year I purchased our council property under the right to buy with my parents.My current partner who I started dating shortly after is now pregnant and currently living in a council property her self.I would love for her to give up her place and move in with myself but there's not enough room as she has a little one already and obviously my parents live and own half the property too.She wants me to move in with her due to this reason but obviously because I purchased a council property I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be allowed to move in with her.Am I right in thinking this, any friendly advice would be great full.Thanks in advance

Our Response:
The easiest way to find out would be to speak to the housing officer really as we're not sure what your council's specific rental/letting policies are.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 6-Sep-17 @ 12:44 PM
Tony flamingo- Your Question:
Hi, how to I post a question on the site

Our Response:
You just have! :-)
ConsumerRightsExpert - 6-Sep-17 @ 12:42 PM
Jay - Your Question:
Around 1973, my then future mother in law moved into a Local Authority house along with my future husband and his sister. In 1987 my now sister in law used my mother in law's Right to Buy the house for around £15,000. I estimate the actual market value of the house at that time to have been around £35,000. In 2001 we sadly lost my husband's mum. My sister in law sold the house, I think, for around £50,000.My question is please, was my husband entitled to any monies from the equity built up in the house from 1973 to 1987, or even 2001 when my mother in law died? Thank you.

Our Response:
If the property belonged to you sister in law, your husband would not have any entitlement to any of the proceeds from the house sale.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 6-Sep-17 @ 11:47 AM
Monr0e - Your Question:
Ive recently married but never lived with my partner he is a hone owner I am a housing association tenant ive been given to go ahead to buy but can my husband apply for the mortgage or have his earnings takien.into consideration despite never haing lived at the property?

Our Response:
The title deeds will be normally be in the name of the person in possession of the "right to buy" . Many mortgage lenders will only lend or consider the income of, the person/persons whose name(s) will be on the title deeds. You should investigate this separately with your housing associations RTB officer and a mortgage provider.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 5-Sep-17 @ 12:53 PM
Hi just a question if anyone can help. Last year I purchased our council property under the right to buy with my parents. My current partner who I started dating shortly after is now pregnant and currently living in a council property her self. I would love for her to give up her place and move in with myself but there's not enough room as she has a little one already and obviously my parents live and own half the property too. She wants me to move in with her due to this reason but obviously because I purchased a council property I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be allowed to move in with her. Am I right in thinking this, any friendly advice would be great full. Thanks in advance
Tony flamingo - 4-Sep-17 @ 6:12 PM
Hi, how to I post a question on the site
Tony flamingo - 4-Sep-17 @ 6:05 PM
Around 1973, my then future mother in law moved into a Local Authority house along with my future husband and his sister. In 1987 my now sister in law used my mother in law's Right to Buy the house for around £15,000. I estimate the actual market value of the house at that time to have been around £35,000. In 2001 we sadly lost my husband's mum. My sister in law sold the house, I think, for around £50,000. My question is please, was my husband entitled to any monies from the equity built up in the house from 1973 to 1987, or even 2001 when my mother in law died? Thank you.
Jay - 4-Sep-17 @ 12:49 PM
Ive recently married but never lived with my partner he is a hone owner I am a housing association tenant ive been given to go ahead to buy but can my husband apply for the mortgage or have his earnings takien.into consideration despite never haing lived at the property?
Monr0e - 3-Sep-17 @ 6:36 PM
Reply to jaydan. The way around not being in property for 12 months is to pay 12 months rent which will be added to overall price. Thats how i sorted it. Hope that helps
Paul - 30-Aug-17 @ 10:48 AM
I was a council tenant for four and half years then moved by mutual exchange to a housing association and I am an association tenant for twenty one years and now again moving by mutual exchange to a council property.Can I buy the council property under right to buy discount.If so how many discount ami likely to get?.
Deero - 29-Aug-17 @ 4:56 PM
I have been in council tenant for 20 years myself on rent .Myself and partner put in to buy house but have been declined duo to him not being on rent or living at property for 12 months.Is there a way around this please.
Jaydan - 24-Aug-17 @ 6:30 PM
Pipmia - Your Question:
I have the right to buy my council house that has since been transferred to housing association. But I am worried I could loose my right to buy if my boyfriend moves in as would this mean my tenancy contract would change

Our Response:
Your preserved right to buy should remain in place even if your boyfriend moves in with you, unless your Housing Association has a specific policy that relates to this. Contact your Housing Association's Right to Buy officer to discuss it.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 10-Aug-17 @ 1:56 PM
I have the right to buy my council house that has since been transferred to housing association. But I am worried I could loose my right to buy if my boyfriend moves in as would this mean my tenancy contract would change
Pipmia - 10-Aug-17 @ 6:12 AM
JP - Your Question:
My good friend wants me to buy his council flat which he would have discount on. I have started researching this but have not seen if friends can buy it and whose name would be on the deeds, if it is possible that I can buy it?

Our Response:
The person with the right to buy has to have their name on the title deeds.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 9-Aug-17 @ 2:39 PM
My good friend wants me to buy his council flat which he would have discount on. I have started researching this but have not seen if friends can buy it and whose name would be on the deeds, if it is possible that I can buy it?
JP - 8-Aug-17 @ 4:56 PM
ABC123 - Your Question:
We are looking to fund my in laws purchase of their council house to provide them greater security in old age. They will then leave this to us in their will. If they die, are there any repercussions regarding us inheriting it and selling it on or letting it out if it's within a certain timeframe?

Our Response:
In some areas the discount does not have to be repaid if the property is transferred to a relative on death. You/your in laws should contact your council's Right to Buy officer for advice.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:14 PM
We are looking to fund my in laws purchase of their council house to provide them greater security in old age. They will then leave this to us in their will. If they die, are there any repercussions regarding us inheriting it and selling it on or letting it out if it's within a certain timeframe?
ABC123 - 4-Aug-17 @ 11:43 AM
rocky - Your Question:
So basically my mum died and I succeeded to her tenancy which she's had for at least 40 years (making her a secure tenant) Was council and then housing association. I have requested my right to buy twice and have sought legal advice and still the housing association are stating the right to buy was lost on my mothers death. Is this correct?

Our Response:
This depends on the type of tenancy you held and your Housing Association's policy on the type of tenancies offered to successors. Ask to see the policy on this as there are variations since the introduction of the flexible tenancy etc
ConsumerRightsExpert - 4-Aug-17 @ 10:28 AM
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