Council house right to buy

Find out if you have the right to buy to buy your council home at a discount.

Right to buy a council home

You may be able to buy your home at a discounted price under the right to buy for secure tenants.

If you qualify, you can buy your home:
  • by yourself 
  • with a spouse, civil partner or other joint tenant

You can also share the right to buy with up to three family members who have lived in your home for the last 12 months.

Who qualifies for right to buy

You must be a secure tenant or a flexible tenant.

You must have been a council or housing association tenant for at least 3 years in total (it doesn't have to be continuous or in the same property). Time spent in armed forces accommodation also counts.

Your right to buy can be lost or suspended if your landlord applies to court to:

  • evict you from your home
  • demote your tenancy

Some homes don't qualify for right to buy. For example, some sheltered or adapted properties or homes that are due to be demolished in the next 2 years.  

Find out if you qualify on the Government Right to Buy website

Housing association tenants

You may already have a right to buy if you're a:

The government intends to extend the right to buy to more housing association tenants in the future.

Some housing association tenants have a 'right to acquire' their home under a different scheme which offers smaller discounts.

Find out more about buying your housing association home on the Government Right to Buy website.

Valuation and discounts under right to buy

Your landlord will assess the market value of your home and work out the discount you are entitled to. 

The discount you get depends on:

  • how long you've been a council or housing association tenant 
  • if the property is a house or a flat
  • whether your landlord has spent money building or refurbishing your home in the last 15 years

Find out more from Gov.uk about how Right to Buy discounts are calculated.

Maximum discounts

The maximum discounts available are:

  • £104,900 in London
  • £78,600 in other areas

The maximum discount increases every April in line with the consumer price index (CPI).

Reselling the property

You'll have to repay some or all of the discount if you sell your home within 5 years of buying it.

If you sell within 10 years, you must offer the property back to the council or a housing association before you can sell it on the open market.

How to apply 

Complete the RTB1 form on the Government Right to Buy website

Or ask your landlord for the form. Use the Gov.uk council finder to find your council's website.

Your landlord's response

Your landlord must write and let you know if you have the right to buy. They must do this within:

  • 4 weeks if you've been their tenant for more than 3 years
  • 8 weeks if you've been their tenant for less than 3 years

They must give reasons if they say you don't have a right to buy.

Formal offer

If your landlord agrees that you have the right to buy, they must send you a formal written notice within 8 weeks of telling you this (12 weeks for leasehold properties).

The formal offer must state:

  • the sale price they are offering
  • amount of discount and how it's calculated
  • estimate of any service charges for the first 5 years
  • details of any structural problems
  • terms and conditions of the sale

You have 12 weeks from getting your formal offer to let your landlord know if you still want to buy.

You can ask for an independent valuation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) within this time if you think your landlord has set the market value of your home too high.

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

Find out more from Money Saving Expert about the process of buying a home

Repairs and service charges

You'll be responsible for repairs once you own your home.  

If you buy a flat, you'll probably be a leaseholder. You may have to pay service charges for communal areas as well as for your own flat.

There are limits on how much the council can charge for service charges.

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

More information is available on the Government's Right to Buy website.


Last updated 31 Dec 2017 | © Shelter

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