What is Right to Buy

The Government runs a number of schemes to assist individuals in buying properties, two of these schemes, “Right to Buy” and “Right to Acquire”, are aimed at those who are in accommodation provided by their local council or authority. Here we look at the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme in detail.

Right to Buy allows tenants of council properties to buy their council home at a discount if the property is their only or main home. The maximum discount you can receive is £87,200  (except in London boroughs where this figure is £116,200) – these figures change on a yearly basis. The discount is calculated based on how long the person has been a tenant, the type of the property and the value of the property.

It is possible to utilise the ‘right to buy’ scheme more than once, however you would normally receive a smaller discount on any subsequent purchase.

If you wish to buy the property, then you can apply by sending a completed form to the landlord, they will then either agree or sell or not, and provide reasons why. The landlord will then send through an offer which includes the price, the discount, a description of the property and any known issues at the property.

At this stage, you would instruct a solicitor to deal with the purchase on your behalf. They will act in your best interests throughout the transaction and know to look out for pitfalls; such as ensuring the plan is correct, dealing with any service charge apportionments and ensuring that the property is then registered at the Land Registry. The solicitor will also help liaise with the solicitors for the local authority and deal with your mortgage lender if you buying with the help of a mortgage. 

If you decide to sell the property within 10 years of buying under the Right to Buy scheme, you must offer to sell it back to the landlord first, and they have eight weeks to agree to buy it back or not before it goes on the open market.

If you sell the property on the open market within five years of buying it, you will need to repay part of the discount you received when buying the property from the landlord. This is calculated on a sliding scale, starting at repaying 80% of the discount. It is important to remember this if you are looking to sell and use any equity in the property to buy another property.

The Landlord can restrict who you can sell the property to if the property is in a national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, or an area the government has deemed as rural for Right to Buy properties. An example of this is that you may be required to sell the property to someone who has worked or lived in the area for a period of three years, evidence such as a letter from an employer will be needed. This can make the property less attractive to buy, as it limits who it can be sold to in the future.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with our Property Department who would be happy to answer any queries.