Schemes to help council tenants buy a home

Your council or housing association may offer a grant or loan to help you buy a home on the open market in return for giving up your tenancy.

Schemes have different names, such as:

  • home purchase grants

  • home purchase schemes

  • cash incentive grants or schemes

If the cash incentive payment is a loan, you must repay it when you sell your home. It is registered as a charge on the home you buy.

Schemes are often aimed at tenants who are downsizing. This means giving up a home that is larger than you need.

Who can apply?

The schemes are aimed at secure council tenants or assured housing association tenants who:

  • can afford mortgage repayments

  • cannot afford to buy without help from the scheme

You are unlikely to qualify if you owe council tax, rent or overpaid housing benefit.

Your landlord may have a waiting list if grant money for the year has been given out.

How to apply

Check your council's website for details of these schemes.

Schemes are more common in areas where there is high demand for council and housing association homes.

How payment is made

Your landlord arranges for the money to be paid to your solicitor when you are buying a house.

The money is paid by the date you complete the purchase of your new home. 

This means that you cannot use the money as a deposit on your home. 

Your landlord usually only pays the money if:

  • everyone has moved out of your rented home

  • your rented home is left in good condition

Homes you can buy

Cash incentive schemes allow you to buy most types of houses or flats on the open market. 

You can buy a freehold or leasehold property.

Some schemes allow you to use the money to buy a shared ownership home.

The schemes will not allow you to buy:

  • a home in poor condition

  • a mobile home or houseboat

  • a leasehold home without much time left on the lease

Right to buy

Right to buy and right to acquire are different schemes that offer council and housing association tenants a discount if you want to buy the home you live in.

Get financial help and advice

Always get independent financial advice before you decide to buy a home.

Grants if you cannot afford to buy a home

Some councils and housing associations offer grants for tenants who agree to downsize to smaller council or housing association homes.

They can also offer financial help with moving costs. 

Last updated: 18 July 2022

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