Right to Buy Scheme

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Chelsea Thomson and George Stringer talk about the Right to Buy scheme.

What is the Right to Buy scheme and how does it work?

The Right to Buy scheme allows most council tenants to buy their council home at a discount. The size of the discount does vary from home to home, and is determined by a few different factors. How long you’ve lived in the property, whether it’s a flat or a house and also the value of the property.

Who qualifies for the Right to Buy scheme?

There is a really good eligibility checker on the government website, but the main criteria are that it’s your only or main home, that it’s self-contained (you don’t share a kitchen or  bathroom) and you have to be a secure tenant. A secure tenant is someone who doesn’t intend to leave the property after purchase.  Of course, you also need to be a public sector tenant, which means that you rent from a council or a housing association. You will need to have done so for at least 3 years, but it doesn’t have to be 3 years in a row. You can do a joint application, so long as the other applicant shares your tenancy or has lived with you for the past three years as well.

What’s the process if I do qualify for Right to Buy?

The scheme is quite structured and it’s down to the applicant who wishes to purchase their own home to get things started. The first step is to complete a Right to Buy application form, which can be found on the government website. Once the application has been signed, send it by recorded delivery or deliver it in person and ask for a receipt. When the landlord receives the application is important as there are certain timeframes to keep throughout the whole process, and if the landlord doesn’t keep within them, you could potentially get a larger discount. Once the landlord has the application, they must make a decision within four weeks of receiving it.  If they’ve been your landlord for less than three years it can take up to eight weeks to receive an answer to your application. If they decline, the landlord needs to provide a full explanation as to why. In most cases, the landlord will agree to sell the property, and send you an offer. The offer will include the price they think you should pay for the home, how much discount you’ll receive and how it was calculated. 

What’s the discount if you live in a house and also if you live in a flat?

The maximum discount is £84,600 in England, but if you’re in London, it does increase slightly to £112,800 for a house. The discount is 35% if you’ve been a tenant for between 3 and 5 years, but after that, it actually goes up 1% for every extra year that you’ve lived there up to a maximum of 70%.  For a flat the discount starts at 50% if you’ve been a tenant for between 3 and 5 years and after 5 years the discount goes up by 2% per year. There is still a maximum of saving £84,600 or £112,800 if you are in London. The only time this changes is if the landlord or the council that you’re renting from has spent money maintaining the building. 

Speak To An Expert

Our highly experienced Advisers are ready to help you with either buying or remortgaging a home, protecting your property and lifestyle along with saving you time and effort, ensuring you have a competitive deal right for you.

Can I let my Right to Buy property?

The Right to Buy scheme does dictate that the buyer must live in their home as a main resident for a minimum of five years. After that point they essentially are no longer bound by the terms of the scheme.The property is yours at this point, so if you want to rent it out you’d switch onto a Buy to Let mortgage. If you sold the property within the first five years or rented it out, you would be required to pay back some, if not all, of the discount that was applied. Always speak to a professional, get the advice and run through all of the questions with them before considering any changes to this type of home ownership scheme.The Yellow Brick Mortgages team would be happy to do all the hard work for you. 

Can the council refuse my Right to Buy application?

There are a couple of reasons that your application can be denied. The most common being that you don’t qualify for the scheme, but if you go online and check the eligibility first, this shouldn’t happen. If the joint tenant hasn’t given their consent for the other tenant to buy without them, this can cause a rejected application. If they can’t verify your identity or it’s not your main house it can affect your application, and the main reason for rejection is if the property is adapted in some way for elderly or disabled people. We can run through and check the eligibility with you, but more so than often it sails through quite easily with the councils in England.

Are there options if I am refused?

You can appeal to a tribunal which is called a first tier tribunal and they will assess the situation and see what can potentially be done. You must appeal within fifty six days of the council turning down your application, otherwise it’s no longer seen as valid.

What does Right to Acquire mean?

It’s very similar to the Right to Buy scheme, with just a few differences. The Right to Acquire is only for housing association tenants and the discount is different. The maximum discount is £16,000 and it varies depending on where you live. Again, you’ll have to give back some of the discount if you sell the property within five years of buying it. But if you sell between five and ten years, you need to offer it back to the previous landlord first.

What happens if there are any delays in the process of Right to Buy?

If there are delays you could potentially get a larger discount on the property. You can fill in what’s called an ‘initial notice of delay’ form or Right to Buy 6, and send it off to your landlord, who then has a month to act on it. They can either move the sale along within one month or send you accounts notice where they explain why they can’t speed things up. If they don’t get back to you within a month it does get a little bit complicated. You then send the Right to Buy 8 notice also known as the ‘operative notice of delay’. This means that any rent you pay while you’re waiting to hear from your landlord could be taken off the sale price. 

Speak To An Expert

Our highly experienced Advisers are ready to help you with either buying or remortgaging a home, protecting your property and lifestyle along with saving you time and effort, ensuring you have a competitive deal right for you.

How can Yellow Brick Mortgages help?

If anyone wants to go through this, we recommend speaking to a broker. Getting the mortgage is a pretty similar process to getting a regular mortgage. A lot of lenders will accept the discount as your deposit on the property, so you might not need to provide a deposit, which would be a massive advantage for most people because if you’re renting, it’s very hard to save.

Mortgage products are not specific products for Right to Buy. If you go to a broker they can help with the forms and the timescales. We can also obviously advise on the mortgage itself and everything that goes along with it. Reach out and ask us for help, that’s what we’re here for.

Your property may be repossessed if you do not keep up with your mortgage repayments. 

Some buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority 

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