If you are interested in purchasing your council property through the government’s Right to Buy scheme, it’s first important to assess your eligibility.
The government takes into account various criteria when considering eligibility, and qualification under the Right to Buy usually means satisfying the following:
- The property is your main home or only home
- You have been a council tenant for three or more years
- You do not live in sheltered housing
- You do not have any outstanding possession orders against you
- The property you live in is not scheduled to be demolished
In most instances, satisfying the above requirements is sufficient to qualify for the government’s Right to Buy scheme. However, your eligibility will need to be confirmed by your council and additional checks may be carried out. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your eligibility, contact a member of the team at UK Property Finance to discuss your case in more detail.
Important Note: there are many unscrupulous service providers whose aim is to mislead Right to Buy clients with overpriced services they do not need. Seeking independent professional support is advisable, but it’s also important to establish fee structures and understand your obligations, before involving third-party service providers.
Changes to Eligibility
In 2015, the government relaxed Right to Buy eligibility criteria from five years’ public sector tenancy to just three years. As a result, qualifying tenants must now live in a council property or qualifying housing association property for just three years, before being able to buy their home at a heavily discounted rate.
Right to Buy Joint Applications
It’s often preferable for eligible Right to Buy tenants to apply alongside a second qualifying applicant. If you’re eligible for the scheme, you have the option of purchasing your property alongside:
- An individual who shares your tenancy
- Your spouse or civil partner
- A maximum of three family members residing with you for a minimum of 12 consecutive months at the time of the application
If you qualify under the Right to Buy scheme, there are no specific rules regarding how to obtain a mortgage for the purchase. Instead, it is the same process of obtaining a mortgage (or the funds needed to cover the cost of the property) as with any other residential property purchase.
At UK Property Finance, we provide independent advice and support on all aspects of mortgage applications. Whatever your financial status and credit history, we’ll set you up with an unbeatable deal to suit your requirements and your budget.
Housing Association Tenants
The rules are slightly different for housing association tenants, though the government has announced plans to extend Right to Buy eligibility to more occupants of housing association properties. Nevertheless, you may need specialist support to determine your eligibility.
Ex-council homes (Preserved Right to Buy)
Most tenants occupying housing association properties do not qualify under the Right to Buy scheme. However, the Right to Buy program does extend to secure council tenants who were occupying a property at the time it was transferred to another landlord by the relevant council. In which case, the tenant may have a ‘Preserved’ right to buy their property at a heavily discounted rate.
Preserved Right to Buy is only applicable when the tenant was living in their property at the time it was transferred. The same tenant may also be eligible if they moved to a different property owned by the same landlord, but not a property owned by another landlord.
The rules for tenants with a Preserved Right to Buy are exactly the same as those for regular council tenants. As are the basic eligibility requirements for the scheme. Speak to your landlord to establish whether or not you are eligible for a discount under the Right to Buy program, or contact a member of the team at UK Property Finance for more information.
Most housing association tenants do not have the Right to Buy. But if you were a secure council tenant and were living in your home when it was transferred from your council to another landlord, like a housing association, then you may have a ‘Preserved’ Right to Buy.
Other Homeownership Schemes
At the time of writing similar home ownership schemes for council tenants and housing association tenants exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However this is forecast to change. Each of these jurisdictions has its own unique rules regarding both eligibility and the extent to which discounts are made available.
Tenants who fail to qualify for the government’s Right to Buy or Right to Acquire programs may still be eligible for a different type of home buying scheme. Examples of which include Share Ownership and Help to Buy, both of which can make first-time home ownership significantly more affordable.
Some local authorities also have their own unique programmes and policies in place, which may be suitable for your requirements.
UK Property Finance can help guide you through the options available and determine the best course of action to suit your preferences and your budget. Book your obligation-free consultation with a member of our team today.
Right to Acquire
Housing association tenants who do not qualify for Right to Buy may still have the opportunity to buy their home with a smaller discount under a secondary ‘Right to Acquire’ program. This is a somewhat different scheme with different eligibility requirements and potential discounts available of between £9,000 and £16,000 on the price of your property.
The government’s Right to Acquire program is, however, subject to change – contact UK Property Finance if interested in purchasing your housing association property.