Right to Buy scheme: England, Wales and Northern Ireland

If you are a council house or housing association tenant, you might be able to buy your home for less than its market rate. Here’s some information on the Right to Buy scheme and how to apply for it.

Right to Buy

How much will my discount be?

The maximum right to buy discount is:

  • £103,900 in London
  • £77,900 for the rest of England
  • £8,000 in Wales
  • £24,000 in Northern Ireland
  • In Scotland the scheme will end on 1 August 2016.

If you sell within five years you will have to pay back your total discount, or some of it, plus a share of any profit.

Can I Apply?

Yes, if:

  • You’ve been a council or public sector tenant for three years
  • The home you want to buy will be used as your main home
  • You don’t share rooms with other people – i.e. the property is self-contained
  • Your landlord is the council, a housing association, NHS trust or other public sector landlord

Also:

  • You can apply for Right to Buy with someone else who shares the tenancy with you; or with as many as three members of your family if you’ve lived together for at least the past 12 months
  • If the council sold your home to another public sector landlord while you were living there, you may still buy it under ‘Preserved Right to Buy’

When don’t you have a Right to Buy?

  • If you’re under threat of eviction, are bankrupt or have large debts
  • If your home is reserved for the elderly or disabled
  • When there’s a shortage of housing

How do I start the process?

Ask your landlord for a Right to Buy form. Once you’ve posted it, your landlord must reply within four weeks. If the answer is no they must say why, and if the answer is yes they’ll send you an offer.

You can also speak to the Right to Buy Agents’ service which will signpost tenants to no-obligation independent advice and to help them with the application process.

Right to Buy useful contacts

How much will it cost to buy the property?

Your landlord will name their price and explain the discount. If you don’t think it’s fair you can ask for a valuation from the independent Valuation Office Agency from HM Revenue & Customs.

  • The landlord’s offer will include a description of the property and any land, details of any structural problems and an estimate of the service charge (if any) for the first five years
  • The landlord must tell you if there are restrictions on who you can sell your home to later. This could make it more difficult to get a mortgage
  • You have 12 weeks to decide whether to go ahead

Can I change my mind?

Yes, you can pull out of the sale and carry on renting at any time.

Raising the money

Most buyers need a mortgage to pay for their home. You can apply for a mortgage from a bank or building society and the lender will check you can afford to meet the repayments.

How much can you afford to borrow?

Before going ahead, make sure you have enough money to cover fees and other costs you’ll need to pay when buying your home.

A guide to mortgage fees and costs

Mortgage payments calculator

Right to Buy in England

Right to Buy in Wales

Right to Buy in Northern Ireland

Right to Acquire

Right to Acquire is a scheme offered in England and Wales for housing association tenants who don’t qualify for Right to Buy.

  • You must have been a tenant for three years and be buying your property to use as your main home
  • You can’t join the scheme if you’re under threat of eviction, bankrupt or if you have any large debts
  • If properties are due to be demolished, or are provided for the elderly, disabled or those in certain jobs, they are not eligible
  • Discounts are lower than under Right to Buy and typically range from £9,000 to £16,000

In England

To qualify for the scheme, your landlord must be a housing association or on the register of social housing providers. Your home must have been built with public funds or taken over from a local council after 1 April 1997.

In Scotland

The Scottish Government plans to end the scheme for all council and housing association tenants in Scotland. Tenants who currently have a right to buy will have two years to do so.

For more information visit the Scottish Government website.

Scotland Right To Buy

Scotland – schemes to help you buy a home

In Wales

Your landlord must be a Registered Social Landlord regulated by the Welsh Government.

More information

Right to Acquireopens in new window

Help to Buy and other housing schemes

Your next step

Shared ownership schemes explained

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