Right to Buy was introduced through the Housing Act 1980 and gave most council tenants the ‘right to buy’ their council property. This opened up a route to home ownership which was never previously available to hundreds of thousands of people across the UK, as a result of the generous discount given under the Right to Buy scheme.

Under the current rules, you can apply to buy your council home if:

  • It’s your only, or main home.
  • It’s self-contained, ie, you don’t share any rooms (including kitchen, bathroom and toilet) with people from outside your household.*
  • You’re a secure tenant (ie. if there’s a legal contract between you and the landlord).**
  • You’ve had a public sector landlord (eg, a council, housing association or NHS trust) for three years (it doesn’t have to be three years in a row).
  • You have no legal issues concerning debt.

* A self-contained unit of accommodation is one which has a kitchen (or cooking area), bathroom and toilet inside it for the exclusive use of the household living within the unit. If the occupiers need to leave the unit to gain access to any one of these amenities then that unit is not self contained.

**As a secure tenant, you can normally live in the property for the rest of your life, as long as you do not break the conditions of the tenancy.

You are allowed to:

  • rent rooms out on a room by room basis- but you can’t sub-let the entire property
  • buy your property using the Right to Buy scheme
  • swap your home as long as it is with another council or housing association tenant - please note that you will need your council or housing associations permission to do this.
  • transfer your tenancy to someone else in some circumstances
  • carry out home improvements, however, you will need permission from your council for some types of work so it is always best to check first.

The discount levels vary for houses and flats

You get a 35% discount for having been been a public sector tenant for 3 to 5 years.

Beyond 5 years, the amount of discount goes up by 1% for each additional year you’ve been a public sector tenant. This can go up to a maximum of 70% or £87,200 across England and £116,200 in London boroughs (whichever is lower).

On flats the discount is 50% if you’ve been a public sector tenant for 3 to 5 years.

As with houses, beyond 5 years, the amount of discount goes up, but with flats it goes up 2% for every extra year you’ve been a public sector tenant. Again up to a maximum of 70% or £87,200 across England and £116,200 in London boroughs (whichever is lower).

15 years as a tenant gets you a 70% discount so someone buying a property worth £50000 could get it for as little as £15000 or a property worth £100000 could be bought for as little as £30000.

Joint application can be made  with:

  • Someone else who currently shares your tenancy
  • It is possible to do an application with someone who does not share your tenancy. The rule is that it can be up to 3 family members who’ve lived with you for the past 12 months.

Preserved Right to Buy is when your home used to be owned by the council, but was sold to another landlord (such as a housing association) while you lived in it. In these circumstances you may have the “Right to Buy”. Ask your landlord if this applies to you.

Why not contact us a to find out more about Right to Buy?