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Social HomeBuy

This content applies to England

How the Social HomeBuy scheme helps social housing tenants buy a share or the whole of their home.

The Social HomeBuy scheme is intended to help tenants of private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs) (usually housing associations) or local authorities to buy a discounted share or the whole of their home.

How the scheme works

The tenant buys a share in her/his home. The minimum share is 25 per cent, but the tenant can elect to buy a larger share or can even buy the whole property at the outset. There is a discount on the initial share of the property purchased. The discount available is between £9,000 and £16,000 depending on location of the property. The amount of discount will be in proportion to the initial share.

Purchasers are entitled to a discount on any additional share of the property they buy, not just on the initial share. When applicable, the remainder of the equity will be retained by the landlord. The tenant will pay a rent of not more than three per cent per year of the market value for the part of the property owned by the landlord.

Who can apply

To be eligible for Social HomeBuy the applicant must:

  • be a local authority or housing association tenant eligible for the right to buy or right to acquire
  • have a landlord who offers the scheme
  • be living in a property which is not excluded from the scheme (see 'Types of property available' below)
  • have been living in the property for a minimum of two years (or five years if s/he became a tenant after 18 January 2005).

Eligibility criteria are available from

Joint applications

An applicant may apply jointly with up to three family members if they live with the applicant and have done so for at least 12 months before the date of the application. In the case of a joint tenancy, an applicant who is a joint tenant may apply with the other tenants named in the tenancy agreement. All joint tenants must give their approval for the application, even if they are not applying themselves.

Who cannot apply

Tenants who are subject to bankruptcy proceedings, anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), anti-social behaviour injunctions (ASBIs), possession proceedings or other legal action as the result of tenancy breaches are excluded. Tenants occupying their properties on an assured shorthold tenancy, licence or a long lease are also excluded.

Types of property available

Some properties that are exempt from the Right to Acquire scheme, for example properties in rural areas, designated protected areas and groups of properties for people with long-term disabilities or special needs, cannot be sold under Social HomeBuy. See the section on Buying LA and PRPSH housing for more information on the Right to Acquire.

How to apply

Potential applicants should find out directly from their landlord (local authority or housing association) if they offer the scheme and whether their home is included.

The landlord will consider the tenant's circumstances before deciding whether to accept them for the scheme. The landlord will carry out a financial assessment to help decide what share an applicant can afford to buy and sustain.

Security of tenure

A tenant of a private registered provider of social housing (PRPSH) who buys a share in her/his home is a combination of an assured tenant and long leaseholder. A local authority tenant would be a combination of a secure tenant and long leaseholder. In either case the landlord usually retains the freehold of the property. See the section on Assured tenancies or Secure tenancies for more information.

If a tenant buys the whole property at the outset, s/he is an owner-occupier with a leasehold or freehold interest depending on the type of property s/he has bought.

See the Home ownership section for information on the rights and responsibilities of owner-occupiers.

Selling the home

When selling a property purchased through Social HomeBuy, the owner-occupier must repay the landlord's share in the property as it is valued at the time of the sale. For example, if the owner-occupier owns 60 per cent of the property, then they will need to repay 40 per cent of the market value of the home at that time to the local authority or PRPSH. If the property is sold within five years, the discount on the initial share is also usually repayable. The owner-occupier may have to offer the landlord first choice on repurchasing the property at market value or allow the landlord to nominate another purchaser.

Alterations or improvements

The value of any structural alterations or improvements that the occupier has made to the property should be discounted, provided the landlord gave written permission for the improvements to be carried out. The occupier should check this point directly with the relevant social landlord.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

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