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Right to Buy scheme: England, Wales and Northern Ireland

If you are a council house or housing association tenant, you might be able to buy your home for less than its market rate. 

Right to Buy

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The maximum right to buy discount is:

  • £112,300 in London
  • £84,200 for the rest of England
  • £24,000 in Northern Ireland

If you sell within five years you’ll have to pay back your total discount, or some of it, plus a share of any profit.

Can I Apply?

Yes, if:

  • you’ve been a council or public sector tenant for three years
  • the home you want to buy will be used as your main home
  • you don’t share rooms with other people – i.e. the property is self-contained
  • your landlord is the council, a housing association, NHS trust or other public sector landlord.

Also:

  • you can apply for Right to Buy with someone else who shares the tenancy with you; or with as many as three members of your family if you’ve lived together for at least the past 12 months
  • if the council sold your home to another public sector landlord while you were living there, you may still buy it under ‘Preserved Right to Buy’.

When don’t you have a Right to Buy?

  • If you’re under threat of eviction, are bankrupt or have large debts
  • If your home is reserved for the elderly or disabled
  • When there’s a shortage of housing

How do I start the process?

Ask your landlord for a Right to Buy form. Once you’ve posted it, your landlord must reply within four weeks.

If the answer is no they must say why, and if the answer is yes they’ll send you an offer.

You can also speak to the Right to Buy Agents’ service which will signpost tenants to no-obligation independent advice and to help them with the application process.

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How much will it cost to buy the property?

Your landlord will name their price and explain the discount.

If you don’t think it’s fair you can ask for a valuation from the independent Valuation Office Agency from HM Revenue & Customs

  • The landlord’s offer will include a description of the property and any land, details of any structural problems and an estimate of the service charge (if any) for the first five years.
  • The landlord must tell you if there are restrictions on who you can sell your home to later. This could make it more difficult to get a mortgage.
  • You have 12 weeks to decide whether to go ahead.

Can I change my mind?

Yes, you can pull out of the sale and carry on renting at any time.

Raising the money

Most buyers need a mortgage to pay for their home.

You can apply for a mortgage from a bank or building society and the lender will check you can afford to meet the repayments.

How much can you afford to borrow?

Before going ahead, make sure you have enough money to cover fees and other costs you’ll need to pay when buying your home.

A guide to mortgage fees and costs

Mortgage payments calculator

Right to Buy in England

Right to Buy in Wales

Right to Buy in Northern Ireland

Right to Acquire

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Right to Acquire is a scheme offered in England for housing association tenants who don’t qualify for Right to Buy.

  • You must have been a tenant for three years and be buying your property to use as your main home
  • You can’t join the scheme if you’re under threat of eviction, bankrupt or if you have any large debts
  • If properties are due to be demolished, or are provided for the elderly, disabled or those in certain jobs, they are not eligible
  • Discounts are lower than under Right to Buy and typically range from £9,000 to £16,000

To qualify for the scheme, your landlord must be a housing association or on the register of social housing providers

Your home must have been built with public funds or taken over from a local council after 1 April 1997.

More information

Right to Buy in Northern Ireland

Once you've been a tenant for five years you might be able to buy your home.  The amount of discount you'll get increases depending on how long you've lived in the property.  Some property types can't be bought because they are difficult to come by and needed for social housing stock.

The maximum discount available to Housing Executive or housing association tenants applying to buy their home is £24,000. Your discount will be 20% if you’ve lived in the property for 5 years. You’ll get an extra 2% discount for every extra year, up to a maximum discount of 60% of the valuation or £24,000.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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