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Right to Buy Scheme

If you’ve been a council tenant for a few years, the Right to Buy scheme could be a good way for you to get on the property ladder. We can help you explore the options and get a mortgage.

What is the Right to Buy Scheme and how does it work?

The Right to Buy scheme is designed for council and housing association tenants in England. It lets you buy your home with a discount of up to £96,000 (£127,900 inside London). The longer you have been a council tenant, the greater the discount you’ll receive.

Because of the discount, you need a mortgage for less than the full value of the property, so in a way, the discount acts as your deposit. This is a big benefit of Right to Buy – you don’t need to spend a long time saving up.

Who qualifies for the Right to Buy Scheme?

To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You’re a council tenant, or were when your current landlord took over the property.
  • The property is your main home.
  • You have been a tenant for three years or more.
  • The property isn’t sheltered housing or a home designed for the elderly or disabled.
  • You don’t have any legal problems caused by debt.
  • There are no outstanding possession orders against you
  • Your home is not due for demolition.

What’s the process if I do qualify for Right to Buy?

If you’re eligible, the first step is to have a chat with a mortgage advisor to understand how much you can borrow on a mortgage and the size of your monthly repayments. 

Next, you complete the RTB1 form, which is online here or available as a printed form from your landlord. You can contact dedicated Right to Buy advisers for help if you need it, or ask us any questions.

Your landlord should respond within four weeks to confirm if you have the right to buy your home. If you’re able to buy, they will then send you an offer notice confirming the property value, the discount and anything else they can tell you about the property. 

You then have 12 weeks to accept the offer. Now is the time to have a survey done on the home, arrange a mortgage and find a solicitor. 

What’s the discount if you live in a house and if you live in a flat?

The maximum discount is the same for both houses and flats: 70% of the property value or £96,000 (£127,900 in London) – whichever is lower. 

With a flat, the discount is larger. It starts at 50% if you’ve been a council tenant for three to five years. If you have reached five years, the discount increases by 2% per year. 

If you live in a house, the discount starts at 35% for tenants of three to five years. It then goes up 1% per year after five years.

Can I let out my Right to Buy property?

You can’t let a property bought with Right to Buy until five years have passed. You could, however, let a room in the property to a lodger.

Can the council refuse my Right to Buy application for any reason?

Yes, they can, but they have to give reasons for refusing the application. Usually, it’s because you don’t meet one of the criteria listed above. You have the option to appeal the decision, but you must do this within 56 days.

Are there options if I’m refused by the council?

Your options will depend on your specific situation and why you were refused. We’ll explore this with you and look at other routes to home ownership. You may find that another scheme might work for you, such as Shared Ownership.

What does Right to Acquire mean?

This is a similar scheme, where Housing Association tenants can buy their home at a discount. You can get a Right to Acquire application form for your Housing Association, and you need to have had a public sector landlord for three years – such as Housing Associations, the Armed Forces, NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts.

Right to Acquire discounts are generally smaller. You can get a discount of between £9,000 and £16,000 on the price of a property.

Is there anything else to consider?

Talking to a mortgage broker will make Right to Buy much simpler and easier to understand. Not all lenders accept Right to Buy applications, so we’re here to find a provider that will suit you.

We’ll support you at every step – from explaining the process, answering your questions and helping you get a mortgage that meets your needs. 

Information correct as at 25/01/2023

Approved by the Openwork Partnership on 15/01/2024

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up with your mortgage repayments.