Our guide to Right to Buy and Right to Acquire
We provide an easy guide to the schemes in place helping council and housing association tenants get on the property ladder.
What is it?
What is Right to Buy
Right to Buy is a government scheme aimed at helping council tenants to buy the home they currently live in, at a significant discount.
What is Right to Acquire?
Right to Acquire is a similar scheme aimed at those renting homes from housing associations, but the discount involved will be smaller.
If you’re either a council or housing association tenant, you may well have the right to buy the home you live in, at a reasonable cost.
How does it work?
How does Right to Buy work?
The majority of council tenants have a secure tenancy, meaning they are under no time limit in terms of the duration of their tenancy. Most people in this position will be able to buy their home under the Right to Buy scheme if they want to and can afford to.
With Right to Buy, it may be possible to buy your home with a discount of up to £82,800 (or £110,500 in London) if you’re currently living in a council property.
How does Right to Acquire work?
Housing association tenants can often buy their home under the Right to Acquire scheme, which is similar to the Right to Buy scheme but involves a smaller discount. The discounts available under this scheme will depend on where you live. You could be offered between £9,000 and £16,000 if you’re eligible.
Am I eligible?
Am I eligible for Right to Buy?
You could be eligible for Right to Buy if you currently live in a self-contained council home, which is your only or main home, and you’re a secure tenant. You’ll also need to have had a public sector landlord (such as the council, or a housing association) for at least three years, but these don’t have to be consecutive.
You may also be eligible under ‘Preserved Right to Buy’ if your current home used to be owned by the council, but was sold on to a housing association or other landlord, while you were living in it.
There is a Voluntary Right to Buy pilot running in some parts of England, which you may be able to sign up for if you live in a former council house but you weren’t living there when it was sold.
Am I eligible for Right to Acquire?
You could be eligible for Right to Acquire if you currently live in a self-contained housing association home, which is your only or main home.
Your property must also have been either:
A former council home transferred to a housing association after 31st March 1997
Built or bought by a housing association after 31st March 1997 (funded through a social housing grant)
There are eligibility checkers available on government websites, such as this one. If you want to go ahead, you’ll have to fill in a Right to Buy or Right to Acquire application form, and if your landlord is in agreement, they’ll respond with a price for your home, details of your discount, and a description of what’s included in the price.¹
How to apply for a Right to Buy or Right to Acquire mortgage
If you decide to buy under Right to Buy or Right to Acquire, you’re responsible for how you finance your home. You’ll need to apply for a mortgage the same way any home buyer would.
Let your lender or mortgage broker know that you’ll be buying through a government scheme, and which one it is, when you give them all your other details. This will help them offer you suitable mortgage deals.²
Do I need a deposit for Right to Buy?
Depending on the lender, a deposit may not be required when you buy a house using Right to Buy or Right to acquire.
Some lenders will let you use your Right to Buy or Right to Acquire discount to cover the deposit.
Keep in mind that without putting down a deposit you’re likely to miss out on more competitive deals, so it’s worth getting advice from a broker who’ll be able to scan the market for the best rates.
House Sales scheme (Northern Ireland)
What is the House Sales scheme?
With the House Sales scheme, those who are social housing tenants could be eligible to buy their home at a lower price. The maximum discount is £24,000.³
Your discount will depend on how long you’ve lived in the property to intend to buy.
More detail about the ins and outs of the scheme can be found at nidirect.gov.uk.
Am I eligible for the House Sales scheme?
Secure tenants of the Housing Executive, a housing association or some other qualifying body for 5 years or more may be eligible for the scheme.
However, you won’t be eligible if:
You live in sheltered housing
You live in a property that’s part of a group housing scheme
You live in a single storey or ground floor property (other than a flat) with less than 2 bedrooms
You are a squatter
The Housing Executive or association currently takes or intends to take legal ownership of the home
How do you apply for the House Sales scheme?
Applying to buy a Housing Executive home
If you want to apply to purchase your Housing Executive home, there is an application to complete.
Applying to buy a housing association home
If you want to apply to purchase your housing association home, you should directly contact your housing association.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
When will housing association Right to Buy start?
It already has. That’s what the voluntary pilot scheme mentioned above is. But right now, it’s only available if you live in the East and West Midlands area. The pilot scheme finishes in 2020 and will then be evaluated, and the results will determine if it becomes widely available.
If the scheme goes well, it’s possible that it will be extended to other areas, though it’s also possible that it will be rolled out slowly across the country.
Can I rent out my Right to Buy home?
It’s often possible to rent out your property once you’ve completed your purchase, but always check with the council or housing association you bought from.
There may be a one off sublet fee, and the council will also want to have an alternative address for you.
Can I get Right to Buy or Right to Acquire in Scotland?
Do you pay stamp duty on Right to Buy properties?
Stamp duty applies as normal, but as there is stamp duty relief for first time buyers on properties up to £300,000, many Right to Buy and Right to Acquire properties will be exempt.
Is Right to Buy ending in England?
The government hasn’t announced any plans to end Right to Buy in England any time soon. In fact, it’s stated that it has plans to extend the scheme to more housing association tenants, which is why it started a voluntary pilot scheme to allow more people to use the Right to Buy scheme.
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