Right to Buy

Right to Buy was a policy introduced in the early 1980s by the Conservative government led by the late Margaret Thatcher. The Right to Buy scheme was derived to allow council housing tenants the opportunity to own their home.

  • 100% funding of the discounted price
  • Impaired credit
  • Freehold & leasehold
  • Access to full range of mortgage products
  • Terms from 3 to 40 years
  • Interest only or capital repayment
  • First time buyers
  • No early repayment charges
  • Fixed rate, tracker, discount rates available
  • Lending into retirement

Apply for a Right to Buy mortgage

Right to Buy gives council tenants in England and Wales who have a minimum of 5 years social tenancy the opportunity for homeownership and to purchase their council property. The 5 years tenancy does not need to be consecutive i.e. it could be 2 years as a council tenant, 2 years as a private tenant and then another 3 years as a council tenant. It just needs to total 5 years or more.

To simplify the buying process, a Right to Buy is available to tenants even if they do not have a deposit. The government offers discounts from the standard market value of a property, which most lenders of mortgages view as the equivalent of a deposit. Right to Buy discounts can vary depending on property type, the location and the amount of years as a council tenant. The current maximum in most areas of England and Wales are set at £75,000 or 60% of the properties valuation (whichever is lower). This amount can increase to 70% for flats and the maximum discount in London is £100,000.


Standard or normal market value of a property: £200,000

Maximum discount (equivalent to a deposit): £100,000

Purchase price: £100,000

*Additional borrowing is also available. This can be used to upgrade the property or for a variety of other reasons. Should Right to Buy purchasers sell the purchased property within 5 years of ownership they will be required to repay a pro rata amount of the discount. For example, if the discount is £100,000 and the ex-tenant sells the property 1 full year after the date of purchase, they will be required to repay from the sale, 80% or 4/5 of the discount i.e. £80,000. If the ex-tenant sells after 2 full years they would be required to repay 60% or 3/5 of the discount i.e. £60,000.


The first step would be to contact a specialist broker of mortgages such as UK Property Finance who will help throughout the process. The broker will confirm Right to Buy eligibility, produce illustrations highlighting the availability, the cost of the mortgage and then help with the application to the council. The council normally take approximately 4 weeks to review the documentation before they instruct a local surveyor to value the property. The surveyor returns the valuation report to the council who will then produce a formal Right to Buy offer. This process normally takes another 4 to 8 weeks and the council tenant then has 12 weeks from the issue date to take up the offer, or it is potentially lost. Due to the cost involved and to deter time wasters councils can have limits on the amount of Right to Buy offers per tenant. If you don’t take up the offer you could lose out on the offer, or any future Right to Buy opportunity.

Almost 2 million households have taken advantage of the Right to Buy Scheme since its introduction. With substantial discounts and historically low rates on the mortgages, ex-council tenants are in many cases paying much less per month on mortgage payments than they were in rent and at the same time the ex-tenant is ensuring a more secure future. As part of the tenancy agreement a council tenant can be given notice to leave the property at any time but following purchase and provided mortgage payments are made as required by the mortgage lender, an ex-tenant can never be asked to leave the property. Purchasing the property also means that any added value improvements made to the property or normal market increases will not benefit the council but will go to the ex-tenant who is now the owner. Many ex-council tenants see Right to Buy as a perfect opportunity to leave an inheritance for their children or grandchildren.

The Right to Buy scheme has been credited with making improvements on many council estates which have changed housing unrecognisably for the better. Large swathes of private ownership within the council estates has meant that significant property and area improvements have been made by the new owners who instead of being tenants now hold a financial stake.

Some bystanders however, see Right to Buy as a counteractive system. Waiting lists for social housing have become much worse as large numbers of council properties continue to be sold and with councils now building fewer properties than they are selling, this situation will only get worse. Some critics negatively credit the Right to Buy scheme with in some part creating the property bubble of the early 90s which has made it even more difficult for first time buyers to join the property ladder. They also believe the Right to Buy a council house is unfair on first time buyers and private tenants who do not get such a helping hand into property ownership and need to save a deposit before they can get the chance to move onto the housing ladder.

Right to Buy — FAQ

What is Right to Buy?

Right to Buy is an affordable housing scheme open exclusively to council property tenants (and some housing association tenants). Qualifying tenants upon meeting specified length-of-tenancy requirements are automatically given the right to purchase their home, with discounts available of up to £82,800, increasing to £110,500 for qualifying properties in London. Lower discounts of £24,000 and £8,000 are available in Northern Ireland and Wales respectively.

When was Right to Buy introduced?

The UK government introduced the Right to Buy scheme to help public-sector tenants purchase their homes with potentially huge discounts from their actual market value. Right to Buy was introduced by the UK Government in 1980, though initial property discounts were relatively low: Up to £16,000 maximum. Discount amounts were subsequently increased on an annual basis to reflect inflation and are now significantly more generous, opening the door to potential homeownership for more tenants than ever before.

When will the Housing Association Right to Buy start?

It is already possible to qualify under the Right to Buy scheme to purchase a housing association property. However, there are specific terms and conditions governing the program. Tenants occupying ex-council houses who lived in the property at the time it was transferred to a new landlord have what’s known as ‘Preserved Right to Buy’. Otherwise, Right to Buy may qualify under a secondary ‘Right to Acquire’ scheme, for which discounts of £9,000 up to £16,000 are available. Contact your landlord or local housing association for more information.

Am I eligible for RTB?

There is an eligibility quiz on the official government Right to Buy portal. Check that out and answer a few simple questions to determine whether you may be eligible for an enormous discount on your home’s current market value.

Housing Association Tenants: Recent changes have affected eligibility for the Right to Buy scheme for occupants of housing association properties. Find out more and determine how much you could save by purchasing your home through Right to Buy.

UK Property Finance has extensive experience and expertise in all aspects of Right to Buy applications for council and housing association tenants alike.

How long does the Right to Buy process take?

Upon receipt of your application to purchase your property under the Right to Buy, your landlord is typically obliged to reply with a decision within four weeks. This is sometimes increased to eight weeks, depending on your length of residency in the property. A complete offer notification including the value of the property, the discount you are eligible for and the resulting purchase price for your home will be sent within no more than 8 weeks for a house, or 12 weeks for a leasehold property. If you choose to go ahead, it will then be your responsibility to organise a mortgage and the general administrative/legal side of the purchase process. From start to finish, it typically takes at least 3 to 6 months to purchase a property under Right to Buy, although it can be quicker.

Do you need a deposit for Right to Buy?

Not necessarily, as many lenders accept the discount on the property’s value as the deposit. Depending on the lender, you may therefore not need to provide any deposit. Nevertheless, this is determined on a case by case basis. In some instances, your deposit obligations will be exactly the same as if you were purchasing a property through the normal channels. Right to Buy mortgage lenders in the UK require deposits of anything from 0% up to 20%, which must be paid before the mortgage completes. If you have concerns as to your ability to cover the necessary mortgage, contact a member of the team at UK Property Finance to discuss the alternative options.

How much discount can I receive under Right to Buy?

The typical maximum discount available on a property in England is £82,800, increasing to £110,500 for qualifying properties in London. It is also possible to qualify for a discount under the Right to Buy scheme in Northern Ireland and Wales, where the maximum discounts available are £24,000 and £8,000 respectively. Anyone interested in purchasing a property outside England should consult with the relevant government website.

Does Right to Buy discount count as a deposit?

Possibly however the deposit you need to pay will be determined entirely by the size and nature of the mortgage you need to pay for your home. There are various different types of mortgages available, along with alternative secured lending options and general property finance packages. To discuss the available options and assess your suitability, contact a member of the team at UK Property Finance anytime.

Do you pay stamp duty on Right to Buy?

Stamp duty is payable on all properties in the United Kingdom, including those purchased under the Right to Buy scheme. Stamp duty is only payable when purchasing a property with a value in excess of £125,000. Most property purchases are subject to the usual 3% stamp duty, which is payable at the time of the property purchase by the individual (or individuals) buying the home.

What is the maximum discount for Right to Buy?

The maximum discount currently available under the Right to Buy scheme in England is £82,800, increasing to £110,500 for qualifying properties in London. Discount amounts are revised and updated every April, in line with inflation. For more information on any of the above issues or to discuss your eligibility for a Right to Buy discount in more detail, contact a member of the team at UK Property Finance today.