Right to Buy - frequently asked questions

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Is the Right to Buy scheme stopping?

The Government is committed to the principle of the Right to Buy. Following concerns regarding certain aspects of the scheme the Government has introduced some changes to the Right to Buy, but tenants have the Right to Buy if they satisfy the qualifying conditions.

How long do I have to be a tenant before I can apply to buy?

This depends on when your tenancy commenced. If your tenancy commenced on or after 18th January 2005 you must have been a public sector tenant or armed forces occupier for a minimum period of five years.

How much will it cost to apply?

The Council does not make any charges for processing your Right to Buy application and will be pleased to assist in helping you complete the application form. The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Council are concerned that tenants do not always receive good advice when they ask private companies and individuals for help in buying their council homes. You may be asked to pay for services that the Council will provide free of charge.

If you decide to proceed with buying your home you will be responsible for any costs arising from your instruction for a surveyor to undertaking a survey of the property, in arranging a mortgage for the purchase of your home and your legal advisor's costs of transfer the property into your ownership.

Can my son or daughter buy the property?

No. Only the tenant or joint tenants may buy the property. However, up to three members of your family may share the Right to Buy the property provided it is their only or principal home and they have lived with you for at least the last 12 months prior to the application.

Can I apply to buy if I have rent arrears?

Yes, but the sale cannot be completed until all rent arrears have been paid. You will not have the Right to Buy if the landlord has obtained a possession order against the property.

What happens if my home is a flat or maisonette?

If your home is a flat or maisonette you will purchase a long lease. This will allow you and your successors to live in the property for a fixed number of years, usually 125 years. Because of the nature of the property there is an ongoing relationship with the Council as the freeholder of the building in which you live in. The lease defines the responsibilities of each party but in general terms the freeholder will be responsible for looking after the structure of the building, the common areas and the provision of services to the building and the insurance of the building. As a leaseholder you will be responsible for paying service charges, your share of these costs incurred by the freeholder.

Although the property is leasehold you can sell these rights, in much the same way as a freeholder.

What happens about any improvement works or repairs?

The property is valued at its open market value in the condition it is in on the day the Council receives your completed Right to Buy application form. The valuation will reflect any improvement undertaken by the Council but will disregard any improvement you have undertaken as the tenant.

Once your Right to Buy application has been received, the Council will not undertake any improvement works to the property. However, the Council will undertake essential repairs to keep the property wind and watertight and in a safe condition.

Who carries out the valuation of my home?

The Council will arrange for a local chartered surveyor or estate agent, who has a knowledge of the local housing market, to undertake the valuation of the property.

What if I disagree with the valuation?

You have a right to obtain an independent valuation of the property by the District Valuer. You must inform the Council in writing within three months of receiving the Section 125 Notice, that you want the property to be revalued. The District Valuer's valuation is final and the value could go up, go down or remain unchanged. The purchase price of the property will be the District Valuer's valuation and you cannot revert to the original valuation if this was lower.

How much discount will I receive?

The Right to Buy scheme allows you to buy your council house or flat at less than its full market value. The amount of discount depends on how long you have spent as a public sector tenant. However, the Government has set a national maximum discount of £75,000.

Can I borrow additional sums to carry out improvements to the property?

Provided the improvements are related to the property it is likely that you will be entitled to borrow additional sums. However, this is a complex area and any lender is likely to require the Council's discount repayments to be postponed behind the loan. Consequently, it is recommended you contact the Council's Right to Buy Officer if you are consider borrowing additional sums for improvements.

Once I have bought my house will I need permission to carry out alterations to my home?

Possibly. When the property was bought from the Council a covenant imposed a requirement that the Council's consent will be required for alterations or additions to the exterior of the property. Therefore, alterations to the exterior of the property will require the Council's written consent. You will need to produce evidence of the consent if you wish to sell your home in the future. Requests for permission for external works should be sent to the Council's Estates Manager.

Can I sell my home?

Yes, but there may be different requirements dependent on when your Right to Buy application was submitted. For applications for the Right to Buy received on or after 18th January 2005 there is an obligation to offer the property back to the Council or another body prescribed by the Secretary of State, at the full market value before the property is sold. This obligation extends for a period of ten years from the date you purchased the property.

Discount may also be repayable if you sell the property within a specific period. For applications received on or after 18th January 2005 the period during which discount is repayable is five years. You are recommended to speak to the Council's Right to Buy Officer to obtain further advice if you are considering selling your home within the period in question.

Updated on 10 February 2014.

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