Find out if you have the right 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 3 family members who have lived in your home for the last 12 months.
Who qualifies for right to buy
You must have been a council or housing association tenant for at least 3 years in total. This doesn't have to be continuous or in the same property. Time spent in armed forces accommodation also counts.
Your right to buy may 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.
Housing association tenants
You may already have a right to buy if you're a:
- secure housing association tenant
- former council tenant whose home was transferred to a housing association with a 'preserved right to buy'
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
The maximum discounts available are:
- £110,500 in London
- £82,800 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
You can complete the application online or ask your landlord for an application 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.
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 (or 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 write to your landlord within 3 months to ask for an independent valuation by the district valuer 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
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 any time afterwards when repairs are planned.
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Last updated 17 December 2019 | © Shelter
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