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Right to Buy - Meaning and Eligibility

Have you ever thought about purchasing your council/housing association property? Perhaps as a way to climb the property ladder or secure your home for your future and that of your family? If eligible, the scheme would allow you to purchase the property at below market value. The discount can be more that £100,000 in some cases. Many people appear to have profited from the scheme; especially as none of the discount will need to be repaid if you sell after 5 years and house prices continue to rise.

The RTB scheme is currently available for properties in England, but we don’t know for how long. The RTB scheme ended in Scotland on 1 August 2016 and in Wales on 26 January 2019.

What does it all mean?

The Right to Buy (“RTB”) scheme is an arrangement to allow eligible Local Authority Tenants and some Non-Charitable Housing Association Tenants the right to purchase the property they live in. It is a right as set out in the Housing Act 1980. The type of property is often houses and flats (the scheme allows for freehold and leasehold properties).

You can buy your home if:-

  • It is your only property;
  • You rent the whole of the property (i.e. not just a room within it);
  • You are an “eligible tenant” (see “RTB Eligibility” below); and
  • You have an eligible tenant for at least 3 years.

The RTB scheme offers a discount to eligible individuals. The maximum discount for inside London is £108,000 and the maximum discount for the rest of England is £80,900. There is a calculator on the website to help you work out your discount. The discount is dependant on how long you have been an eligible tenant, in the property. We encourage you to speak with your Landlord or one of the Government Advisors (see “RTB Eligibility” below) who should be able to give you specific information.

RTB Eligibility

The RTB scheme is predominantly for Local Authority Tenants rather than Non-Charitable Housing Association Tenants, although the scheme does offer a “preserved right” for previous Council Tenants who are now Housing Association Tenants.

There is a very useful quiz  on the website which will help you to assess your eligibility. Alternatively if you would prefer to speak to someone, the Government have set up an advisory service. The agent should be able to run through the eligibility quiz with you and answer the questions you may have. The agent should also be able to help you with the application process.

Please note, you will not be eligible for the RTB scheme if you have been ordered to leave your home by way of a court order. In addition you cannot buy your home if you are an undischarged bankrupt, have a bankruptcy petition pending against you, or have made an arrangement with creditors (people you owe money to) and you still owe them money.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that, you can jointly apply for the RTB scheme with members of your family (as long as they have lived with you for the last 12 months) or someone that you are already a joint tenant with.

RTB Process

The first step is to have a chat with your Landlord or one of the Government Advisors, to establish your eligibility. If eligible there is an initial claim form for you to complete. This is known as the RTB1 Form. The Government Advisory Service will be able to help you with this form. You will also need to find a Solicitor to help you with the legal side of the process – this is where we can help you – and a Mortgage Advisor to help you with your mortgage (if applicable). We can recommend Mortgage Advisors for you.

How does Right to Acquire compare?

The Right to Acquire (“RTA”) scheme is an arrangement to allow tenants not eligible for the RTB scheme the right to purchase their homes, in accordance with the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

The RTA scheme should cover the majority of other Non-Charitable Housing Association Tenants. We encourage you to speak with your Landlord to assess you eligibility and options.

The process of the RTA scheme is not too different from the RTB scheme. It just covers a different pool of eligible people and the discount is different. There is a very useful link of the GOV.UK website should you wish to know more about this particular scheme.

Here at Brethertons LLP we are experienced in the RTB and RTA processes and we would be more than happy to help you. Please do get in touch with your enquiry. We can discuss any questions you may have and provide our quotation for you.

If you would like advice, please contact me  or a member of our Conveyancing Team.

Please treat the contents of our blogs as general guidance only. Please do not take any action based on their contents unless you have sought specific legal advice. Brethertons cannot accept responsibility for any errors or inaccuracies, loss or damage in circumstances where there is no formal retainer between us and we have not given you personal and specific advice relating to a matter for which you have given us full background details.  You must also bear in mind that the contents of our blogs are based on English Law, and because they contain archival material, that material is likely to go out of date. Therefore, it is important to consider the date that the blog was posted. Please also remember that the law may differ in different Jurisdictions.