You may have come across the term “Right to Buy,” but what exactly does it entail? The Right to Buy scheme is a unique opportunity for eligible council tenants to purchase their property from their respective council at a reduced price. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of the Right to Buy scheme, including eligibility criteria, discounts, associated costs, and the process of buying your council house.
Who is Eligible for the Right to Buy Scheme?
To qualify for the Right to Buy scheme, you generally need to meet specific criteria. Here’s a breakdown of eligibility:
- You must have been a secure council tenant for a minimum of two years (or five years in some cases).
- If your council property was transferred to a housing association, and you were a secure tenant before the transfer, you likely have the preserved right to buy your house.
However, you won’t be eligible if:
- You lack a protected right to buy and are an assured tenant of a registered social landlord.
- You rent your home as part of your job.
- The courts have issued a possession order requiring you to vacate your house.
- You are facing bankruptcy.
- You reside in housing designated for older individuals.
You can check your eligibility through the official eligibility quiz available at righttobuy.gov.uk.
Determining Your Discount
The discount you can receive under the Right to Buy scheme depends on the duration of your tenancy and your location. The maximum discount available is £78,600 across England, except in London boroughs, where it’s £104,900. It’s essential to note that if you sell your council house within five years of purchase, you might have to repay some or all of the discount you received. You can use a helpful discount calculator provided at righttobuy.gov.uk to estimate your potential discount.
Additional Costs Involved
In addition to the reduced purchase price, there are other costs associated with buying your council house. These expenses can be one-time charges, such as legal fees, search fees, land registry fees, and Stamp Duty Land Tax, or ongoing costs like mortgage repayments, repair expenses, and service charges. For a comprehensive cost assessment, reach out to our New Business team at 0114 249 69 26.
The Purchase Process
To initiate the purchase of your council house, you must apply to your local council using a specific form. The council will assess your eligibility and send you a letter detailing various aspects of the sale, including the purchase price, available discounts, estimated service charges for the past five years, potential structural issues, and terms and conditions. If you disagree with the price set by the landlord, you can request an independent valuation by a district valuer. The valuation provided by the district valuer is final, even if it exceeds the initial estimate.
Once you receive the eligibility letter, you have 12 weeks to decide whether to proceed with the purchase. It’s crucial to engage a solicitor during this period to ensure compliance with strict timelines.
Selling Your Home
If you decide to sell your Right to Buy property within ten years of purchase, you must first offer it to your former landlord or another social landlord in the area at the full market price agreed upon between you and the landlord. If the landlord declines within eight weeks, you can sell your home to anyone.
Repaying Your Discount
If you sell your Right to Buy home within five years of acquisition, you’ll need to repay a portion of the discount received. The repayment percentages decrease over time as follows:
- Second year: 80% of the discount
- Third year: 60% of the discount
- Fourth year: 40% of the discount
- Fifth year: 20% of the discount
The amount to repay depends on the property’s value at the time of sale. However, you may not have to repay the discount if you transfer ownership to a family member, subject to approval by your landlord and assistance from a solicitor.
For further information or a quote on legal services for your Right to Buy purchase or property sale, please contact our New Business team at 0114 249 69 26.