Right to Buy: Can I Buy my Council House?

If you currently live in a council house, you may be eligible to buy the property you live in and take your first step onto the property ladder. Under the government’s Right to Buy scheme, most council and housing association tenants have the option to buy their home at a discounted rate – lower than the full market value.

However, the first step is to find out whether you’re eligible to do so, and what the process of buying your council home would be.

This blog post will offer advice as to whether you can own your council home, and how you can go about beginning this exciting process!

Can I buy my council house?

The answer to this question depends on several different factors. You could be eligible to buy your council house if you meet the following Right to Buy criteria:

  • The council house is your only or main home
  • The property is self-contained
  • You’re a secure tenant of the property
  • You have been the tenant of a public sector landlord for at least three years – which don’t need to be consecutive.

If you’re a housing association tenant, under the Right to Buy rules, you’re only able to purchase your property if it was previously owned by the council, and was then transferred to a housing association. Or, alternatively, if the property was built or bought by a housing association after 31st March 1997 you may also be eligible to purchase it.

However, you will not be eligible to buy your council home if: 

  • The property isn’t your only or main home
  • The property isn’t self-contained, for example if there’s a communal kitchen
  • The property has been designed or adapted to suit people with disabilities, or it is sheltered housing.
  • You are an un-discharged bankrupt, have a bankruptcy petition pending against you, entered into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (when you would have made arrangements with people that you owe money to and still owe them money) or have obtained a debt relief order.
  • A court makes a possession order which says that you must leave your home
  • You have received a letter from your landlord in the last 7 years saying that your property will be demolished.

For a simple way to find out whether you may qualify to buy your council house, take the Right to Buy Eligibility Quiz – however your landlord will need to confirm this.

Am I eligible for a discount on my council house?

If you’re a tenant of council housing, you may find that you’re able to buy your home at a discounted price (i.e. lower than its full market value). At the time of writing, the maximum discount on the sale price of a council property is £78,600 in most areas, however this reaches £104,900 in the boroughs of London. The discount is determined by:

  • How long you’ve been a council tenant for
  • Whether the property is a house or a flat
  • The age and the condition of the property
  • Where you live

There are different discount levels available to houses and flats. House tenants can benefit from a minimum 35% discount and flat tenants a minimum 50% discount – this will be higher if you have been a tenant for five years or more.

However, it should be noted that you may have to repay some (or even all) of the discount if you go on to sell the property within the first five years, or if it is repossessed by your mortgage lender during this time.

I’m eligible to buy my council house!

Now what do I do?

If you fulfil the required Right to Buy criteria, then you can apply to purchase your home by simply filling out a Right to Buy application form and sending it to your landlord. Within 4 weeks of receiving your application, your landlord must respond. If your landlord agrees, then you will receive an offer.

You may need to get a mortgage from a bank or building society to finance the purchase of your council house. For more information, take a look at our information for first time buyers, which has all of the details and guides you need as you embark on the journey to owning your first home. We have some really helpful blog posts on other aspects of buying a home too, including the things you need to know about stamp duty, and the costs of a home buyers survey.

 

Buying your council property can make your house truly feel like your home, and we hope we’ve provided you with the information you need to get the ball rolling. Should you have any other questions about mortgages with Newcastle Building Society, one of our qualified mortgage advisers would be delighted to speak with you. Call the team now on 0345 606 4488, or book an appointment at your local branch now.

Your mortgage will be secured on your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.