Find out how you could use the right to buy to buy your council home at a discount.
Right to buy a council home
Under the council house right to buy, you may be able to buy your house or flat at a discounted price if you are a council tenant.
If you qualify for the right to buy, you can buy your council home:
- yourself if you are the sole tenant
- with a joint tenant
- with up to three family members who have lived in your home for at least the last 12 months
Housing association tenants may have similar rights to buy under the right to acquire.
Preserved right to buy for former council tenants
If you were a council tenant whose home was transferred to a housing association, you can apply to buy your home under rules for the preserved right to buy.
Right to buy discounts
From April 2015, the maximum discount on the sale price of a council home is:
- £103,900 in London
- £77,900 in other areas
The sale price is decided by a valuer who assesses what the property is worth.
The amount of discount you usually get depends on:
- how long you've been a council tenant (including any time spent as an introductory tenant but not as a demoted tenant)
- whether the property is a house or a flat
- the age and condition of the property
- where you live
You have to repay some or all of the discount if either:
- you sell your home within the first 5 years
- it is repossessed by your mortgage lender during that time
If you bought your home after January 2005, the council also has the right of first refusal for 10 years after the purchase.
Homes that don't qualify for the right to buy
You may not have the right to buy if a council house or flat
- isn't your only or main home
- isn't self-contained (for example you share a kitchen or bathroom)
- has been designed or adapted for people with special needs or is sheltered housing
How to apply to buy a council house or flat
You can ask your council for the form. Use the Gov.uk council finder to find details of your local council.
You must have been a tenant for at least 3 years in total (it doesn't have to be all at once). You can count time spent as:
- a council tenant
- a housing association tenant
- an armed forces tenant
- a tenant of a public body such as the NHS
You won't be eligible if you have serious money problems.
The council's decision
The council must write to you within 4 to 8 weeks to let you know if you can buy your council house or flat.
If it decides you have the right to buy, the council must send you a formal written notice that describes the property and sets out:
- terms and conditions of the sale
- the property's value
- the discount and how it's calculated
- details of any structural problems the council is aware of
If you don't have the right to buy, the council must explain why in writing.
Get advice if your application is refused.
Costs of buying a council house or flat
To buy a home you usually need to:
- pay a deposit
- pay for surveyors reports and legal fees
- get a mortgage from a bank or building society
You can't get housing benefit to help pay for mortgage costs. You may be able to claim Support for Mortgage Interest, but there's a waiting period of 13 weeks.
Repairs and service charges
If you buy a flat, you'll probably be a leaseholder. You usually have to pay service charges and repair costs for communal areas as well as for your own flat.
There are limits on how much the council can charge for service charges.
After you buy a council home, you might also have to pay a contribution towards the cost of repairs and improvements to places such as any shared areas.
Your council has a legal duty to tell you about the cost of repairs and improvements before you buy a leasehold flat and anytime afterwards when repairs are planned.
Still need help?
Call the Right to Buy Agent service on 0300 123 0913
Last updated 23 Dec 2015 | © Shelter
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