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Council Houses - Your Right to Buy

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 7 Jul 2021 | 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.


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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My brother and I bought my mums council flat some years ago to save here paying rent when she retired.She is now 91 and in a care home….will the money from the sale have to go into bank to pay fees…..we have a deed of trust.
Mo - 7-Jul-21 @ 2:35 PM
My mum wants to buy my council house for me, I've got debts from over the years,will I have to pay all my debts first before buying
Pat - 20-Jun-21 @ 6:57 PM
My mam has recently passed away and was the only name on the rent book after my dad died in 2001,,I've lived in the family house for 44 years,,I'm now 45,,,,can I still live here and pay the rent or buy the house?
Rabbit - 13-Jun-21 @ 6:56 PM
Iv would like to buy my house Iv lived in for 12 years it’s countcil house my sonsaid he would give me the money from money his dad left him when he died is that aloud it will be in my name only.Can you help me find out please
Jen - 16-May-21 @ 7:36 PM
Hi I qualify for a right to buy my council House. My problem is that I’ve never earned enough to get a mortgage, until now ! Problem is that I’ve been left a flat as inheritance and underthe new rules you’re not allowed to have a council house if you own another property. Will I still qualify for my right to buy if I have been willed another property ?
John - 24-Mar-21 @ 11:36 AM
hello my husband passed last year I am the tennant now we livedhere 49years lm Thinking of buy ingcouncil house with RTB WILL Istill be able to getthe discountas I lived here as well thankyou
sweetheart 16 - 19-Feb-21 @ 2:05 PM
My Father had RTB so I bought his first floor flat in 2003 and had a Deed of Trust (with myself as tenant in common and Beneficiary owner) drawn up saying he could stay as long as he wished or was able to, he just had to pay the bills and we paid any maintenance bills. He is now 80 and losing his sight so I have purchased a BTL bungalow for him to get used to before it gets any worse, the flat is no longer suitable. The Deed says if he can end the Trust by signing the flat over to me, which he would like to do. However, I have just read on the HM Gov site that if an arrangement to transfer a lease is made within 5 years of the original purchase then some or any discount may have to be repaid. Would that apply in this case?
steve - 19-Nov-20 @ 7:50 PM
hi my mum is 80 in a 3 bed council house, my son who is 40 has lived with her for 20 years , can he buy the property , he isnt on the tenncy agrrement
moments - 10-Oct-20 @ 11:11 AM
hi my mum is 80, and my son who is 40 has lived with her all his life, can my son buy the house its council, he isnt on the tennancy
moments - 10-Oct-20 @ 11:09 AM
I’ve been a social landlord tenant for 24 years. Over that time I’ve had 3 properties. I originally had a right to buy but when I moved last time the new Housing trust said I only had the right to acquire after they had told me I would have right to buy. They then told me the property I was in I couldn’t buy so they moved and paid for my move to a new property with a letter stating I had Right to acquire. I am confused as I was told that my right to buy stayed with me and as I’ve been a social tenant for over 20 years I could request a RTB with a discount... I pay my rent and have been a tenant with my HT for 6.5 years the property I live in is built in 1950s and we have invested huge sums of money as we were also informed that this wouldn’t play a part in valuation. Can someone please advise me of my rights and if I can buy or acquire???
Jax - 28-Jun-20 @ 6:15 PM
Hi, My mum has lived in her council house for 10 years, I still live with her (son) I’ve lived there since she moved in . She is now looking to apply for a bungalow due to her health of getting up and down the stairs,but the bungalow is only a one bedroom . Am I able to buy our house under the RTB?Am I able to have my own name on the mortgage or will my mum have to be on the mortgage aswell ? Please can you give me some more information on this . Thankyou
C - 24-Feb-20 @ 7:06 PM
I gifted the money for my Mum to buy her RTB maisonette, In her will she has named me as the beneficiary of the maisonette on her passing (as I effectively paid for it). We are 3 years in to the term of RTB now but what happens if she passes before the 5 year term? Will I inherit with no issues or will I face issues regarding the original discount applied?
Wellsy - 18-Feb-20 @ 4:05 PM
Hi my wife had right to buy her old but we dida mutual exchange & also it was a different housing association we where told any discount we follow from her old house and also we would have to right to buy/ aquire but now we not so sure if this is true, any help please
Steven101 - 4-Feb-20 @ 7:23 PM
Can my son buy my council house with out me being on the Morgage, but the house in my name only
Sal - 3-Feb-20 @ 11:45 AM
My mum lived in a council property for over 50 years and sadly she passed away last year and I took over the tenancy if I wanted to buy would I still get the discount off the property
Giz - 5-Nov-19 @ 4:28 PM
Please please can you help.I’m entitled to RTB.Sadly the council are messing me around with the amount of discount I an entitled to.My x husband bought our council house.Nit me just him I am not in mortgage I have nothing to do with the property.They are taking all that discount off me.I’m a mess it’s as if they don’t want me to buy my flat.In 5 weeks they gave sent me two different offers of disc. Both are nit tight. To put it bluntly they are trying to rip me off. Plcoukdvyiu helo. I’m desperate
debs - 25-Oct-19 @ 7:21 PM
I have a right to buy mortgage with my husband. As we have split up and he is no longer in the property I am looking into removing him from the deeds I have already been accepted for the mortgage on my own Do i have to pay back any of the discount even though I am not selling and I am still living in the property?
Tracy - 22-Jul-19 @ 3:44 PM
I'm looking at buying my council house. iv have been hear 5 years and have 3 years on another council property. if I was to buy it cash would I be able to extend it straight away or would I have to wait?
kmk81 - 12-Jun-19 @ 8:40 PM
I have lived in council property for 7 years plus need help and support to right to buy my son works and moved in in jan if I and my son broughthe would inherit the house also how much discount would I likely get and I do have legal rights I need help applying RTB1 form thank you
Kezza - 4-May-19 @ 12:49 PM
My grandmother is 80 and has been in her house for over 35 years. It’s now a housing association property. I’m not currently living with her but would like to know if it’s possjble for me to buy her house, in either joint or her name. I would be covering all payments. Is this possible?
Shiff - 31-Oct-18 @ 2:35 PM
Hi I'm in the process of looking at buying my property but I'm unsure what discount I will get . My wife as been a council tenant for 26 years not in the property we are looking at buying . She lived in a house for 20 years but now in a flat . So how does the discount get worked out ? Do they discount at the rate of the flat we are in? Which makes it 70% discount or the house she lived inwhich would give 56%? Any advice would be very much appreciated .
Mr Ben - 4-May-18 @ 4:19 PM
Kelster20189 - Your Question:
Hi my mom has been given the right to buy and the valuation is coming through,i would like to have a joint mortgage with my mother but I do not live there and myname is not on the rent book, can this be done.

Our Response:
Your name cannot be usually be inlcuded on the title deeds if you do not live in the RTB property. Some (but not many) mortgage lenders might consider offering a joint mortgage with the deeds in one name only; you would have to do some research to find out.
ConsumerRightsExpert - 10-Apr-18 @ 11:45 AM
Hi my mom has been given the right to buy and the valuation is coming through, i would like to have a joint mortgagewith my mother but i do not live there and my name is not on the rent book, can this be done.
Kelster20189 - 9-Apr-18 @ 1:00 PM
I have been a tenant for 23 years. My son wishes to buy my house. Will he get the discount that we have accrued? Also I now get full housing benefit, so will this continue after purchase and be paid to my son?
Loulou - 21-Mar-18 @ 4:18 PM
My mum has been a tenant for Years and qualifies for the full discount for RTB. Me and my partner moved in with her last May to try to buy a property but wondering if we can buy hers? Or if she transferred the tenancy to me after 12 months of living with her would I get the full discount or will it start again?
Kcoh91 - 18-Dec-17 @ 12:13 PM
I have been a secure council tenant for over 5 years.I have some legal debt issues and understand that I cannot apply for a RTB.My partner has been living with me for over 5 years and last July we got married and added his name to the Tenancy Agreement.Does he need to wait 3 years to make a sole application for a RTB?
Enquiry - 22-Nov-17 @ 1:22 PM
I have inherited a flat that my aunt bought under the right to buy scheme 2 years ago. She has lived in the flat for 10 years in total. Am I able to sell the flat at its full market value or do I have to return a percentage of the value as my aunt lived in the flat for only 2 years after she purchased it?
Lou - 20-Nov-17 @ 8:49 PM
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
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