Right to Buy and Right to Acquire explained

We provide an easy guide to the schemes in place helping council and housing association tenants get on the property ladder.

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What is it?

What is Right to Buy?

Right to Buy is a government scheme with the aim to help council tenants buy the home they currently live in. They'll get a large discount using the scheme.

What is Right to Acquire?

Right to Acquire is for people renting homes from housing associations. It's like Right to Buy but the discount is smaller.

If you’re a council or housing association tenant, you may have the right to buy the home you live in, at a lower cost.

How does it work?

How Right to Buy works

Most council tenants have a secure tenancy. This means the length of their tenancy is not under a time limit.

Most people in this position will be able to buy their home under the Right to Buy scheme if they want to and can afford to.

You may be able to buy your home with a discount of up to £82,800 (or £110,500 in London) if you live in a council property.

How Right to Acquire works

Housing association tenants can often buy their home under the scheme.

The discounts available under this scheme will depend on where you live. You could get between £9,000 and £16,000 if you’re eligible.

Am I eligible?

Am I eligible for Right to Buy? 

You could be eligible for Right to Buy if:

  • you currently live in a self-contained council home

  • this home is your only or main home

  • you’re a secure tenant

  • you've had a public sector landlord (such as the council, or a housing association) for at least three years. This does not need to be 3 years in a row

You may also be eligible under ‘Preserved Right to Buy’ if the council used to own your current home. This is if they sold it on to a housing association or other landlord while you were living in it.

There is a Voluntary Right to Buy pilot running in some parts of England. You may be able to sign up for this if you live in a former council house but you were not living there when it was sold.

Am I eligible for Right to Acquire?

You could be eligible for Right to Acquire if:

  • you currently live in a self-contained housing association home

  • this home is your only or main home

Your property must also have been either:

  • a former council home transferred to a housing association after 31 March 1997

  • built or bought by a housing association after 31 March 1997. And funded through a social housing grant

Check if you're eligible for Right to Buy

If you want to go apply, you’ll have to fill in a Right to Buy or Right to Acquire application form.

If your landlord agrees, they’ll reply to you with:

  • a price for your home

  • details of your discount

  • a description of what’s included in the price¹

How to apply for a Right to Buy or Right to Acquire mortgage

If you decide to buy under Right to Buy or Right to Acquire, you’re responsible for how you pay for your home. You’ll need to apply for a mortgage the same way any home buyer would.

When you give your lender or mortgage broker your details, tell them what government scheme you're using. This will help them offer you suitable mortgage deals.²

Do I need a deposit for Right to Buy?

Depending on the lender, you may not need a deposit when you buy a house using Right to Buy or Right to Acquire.

Some lenders will let you use your Right to Buy or Right to Acquire discount to cover the deposit.

Remember that without putting down a deposit you’re likely to miss out on more competitive deals. It's worth getting advice from a broker who’ll be able to scan the market for the best rates.

Right to Buy and Shared Ownership

It’s not currently possible to use the Right to Buy scheme if you already part own your home.

Discuss your options with your housing association if you want to buy a bigger share in your shared ownership home.

House Sales scheme (Northern Ireland)

What is the House Sales scheme?

The House Sales scheme, lets social housing tenants buy their home at a lower price. The maximum discount is £24,000.³

Your discount will depend on how long you’ve lived in the property you plan to buy.

Read more about the Homes Sale scheme on the NI Direct website.

Am I eligible for the House Sales scheme?

You may be eligible if for 5 years or more you've been a secure tenant of:

  • the Housing Executive

  • a housing association

  • another qualifying body

You will not be eligible if you:

  • live in sheltered housing

  • live in a property that’s part of a group housing scheme

  • live in a single storey or ground floor property (other than a flat) with less than 2 bedrooms

  • are a squatter

  • have The Housing Executive or association currently taking or planning to take legal ownership of the home

How do you apply for the House Sales scheme?

If you want to apply to buy your:

  • Housing Executive home, you need to complete an application

  • housing association home, contact your housing association

More about Right to Buy

The voluntary pilot scheme is already running.

It's only available if you live in the East and West Midlands area.

The pilot scheme finishes in 2020. It'll then be evaluated to decide if it should become available in more places.

If the scheme goes well, they may extend it to other areas. They could decide to roll it out slowly across the country.

It’s often possible to rent out your property once you’ve completed your purchase. Always check with the council or housing association you bought from.

There may be a one off sublet fee, and the council will also want to have an alternative address for you.

These schemes are only available in England.

Different rules apply in Scotland, and also in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Stamp duty applies as normal, but as there is stamp duty relief for first time buyers on properties up to £300,000.

Many Right to Buy and Right to Acquire properties will not have to pay.

The government has not announced any plans to end Right to Buy in England any time soon.

It has said that it has plans to extend the scheme to more housing association tenants. This is why it started a voluntary pilot scheme to allow more people to use the Right to Buy scheme.

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The information on this page was sourced from Gov.uk unless otherwise stated below: