Right to Buy

Important information about buying your Council home

This article is for information only and should not be taken as professional advice. You should take independent financial and legal advice before making such a large purchase.

Buying your own home is a big step. The discount for buying a Council home has been increased. We want to give you a balanced view of the advantages and risks when purchasing a property. For most people it is the biggest investment they make. You should consider all the facts before you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

Is it better to rent?

For most tenants, the best option is to continue to rent your home. Council rents are well below the market rent level. You also get a comprehensive repairs service and long term maintenance programme for replacing major things in your home, like kitchens, windows and doors. This takes away the worry for many people of a large unexpected bill. 

Help with renting your home

If you fall on hard times or are unable to work, you can currently claim Housing Benefit to help with your rent. Financial support for rent will continue to form a part of Universal Credit. This will not apply if you buy your house. 

The discounts for buying a Council house

The government has increased the maximum discount on Right to Buy sales. If you are eligible, (a tenant for over three years and not living in sheltered or specialised housing), the discount increases until you reach the maximum level.

Complete tenancy years

Houses (35% plus 1% per extra year

Flats (50% plus 2% per extra year)

3 (minimum)

35%

50%

10

40%

60%

15

45%

70% (max)

40

70% (max)

 

 

The maximum discount available is £78,600

The maximum discount available is £78,600

Your discount will be less if the Council has spent money building or maintaining your home –

  • in the last 10 years - if the Council built or acquired your home before 2 April 2012
  • in the last 15 years - if you’re buying your home through Preserved Right to Buy, or if the Council acquired your home after 2 April 2012

You won’t get any discount if your landlord has spent more money than your home is now worth.

The cost of buying a home (estimated)

Things to consider before buying a home

Mortgage repayments

You may need to take out a mortgage to buy your home. This is a loan that is secured against the property. You need to be sure that you can keep up the repayments in the long term to pay off the whole mortgage (normally around 25 years). Your home could be at risk if you fail to keep up with your mortgage payments. Interest rates can also go up or down, which may affect your monthly repayments. 

Maintenance costs

If you buy your own home, keeping it maintained will be entirely your responsibility. Could you afford a large repair bill in the future?

Life insurance / income protection

You may consider that you need this if you are concerned about what happens to your home should you die or lose your job. 

Service charges

If you buy your flat, you will no longer be a tenant but will be granted a lease. You will have to pay for your own repairs. You will still have to pay service charges as now (plus 10% administration). You will also have to contribute to all major works or improvements to communal areas. This includes the grounds and roof. Costs can sometimes run into thousands of pounds. 

Loss of Housing Benefit

If you own your own home, you will no longer be eligible for Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit. If you continue to rent, Universal Credit will include your rent. 

Selling your home

If you sell your home within five years you will need to repay some of the discount you were given when you purchased it. The sooner you sell, the larger the repayment will be. The date is set at the time you agree a sale, not when the sale goes through. This means if you agreed now to sell in five years time, you would still have to repay the full discount. Amount of discount to pay back if you sell after the first year