Can Council Refuse Right To Buy?

Council homes are still considered to be much more affordable as compared to private properties in the UK. The aim of the blog is to explore whether or not the council can refuse an applicant’s request to purchase a council house under the Right to Buy scheme and the potential circumstances under which a refusal takes place. We will also explore other options that an applicant can consider if their Right to Buy applicant stands refused.

Can Council Refuse Right To Buy?

Yes, the council can refuse your application to purchase a council house under the Right To Buy scheme mainly because an applicant is not a Secure Tenant or they share Joint Tenancy and their joint tenant has refused to proceed.

Another key reason for your Right to Buy application being refused by the council can be the fact that the council property that you are interested in buying is primarily intended and adapted for the elderly or the disabled. Perhaps it was lent to you due to an elderly or disabled person in your household, however, the council can refuse to sell such property.

One more reason for refusal from the authorities can be that the property that you are keen to buy is due to be demolished in the near future, it has structural defects or perhaps the land is being used temporarily for housing and there are other plans for its use.

Other reasons for being refused to buy a council house under the Right to Buy scheme could be the applicant’s inability to meet any of the following conditions of the eligibility criteria: 

  • the applicant is living in the council home and it is their main residence
  • none of the rooms is being shared with anyone else other than household members
  • the applicant is under a secure tenancy agreement with their council housing landlord
  • the applicant has been a council housing tenant for a minimum of three years
  • there are no pending debt disputes against the applicant

Although the Right to Buy scheme is now abolished in Wales and Scotland, council housing tenants in Northern Ireland and England continue to benefit from it

What Can I Do If Council Refuses Right To Buy?

If your Right to Buy application for purchasing a council house has been refused by the authorities and you believe that you can make a strong and reasonable argument in your favour, you can file an appeal with the tribunal within 56 days of being refused. 

You will need to fill out Form RTB1 if you are being denied the purchase of the council property due to the reason of being intended for the elderly. Additionally, you will be requried to pay a fee for the process of appeal to commence. 

Once your appeal is filed, you might be asked to provide supportive documents as evidence. You will also be informed of the next steps in the process; such as whether or not there will be a hearing on the matter or it will e a paper decision (based on the application and evidence provided).

If someone is on low income or claiming benefits and finds it unaffordable to pay the court fee, it can be waived off.

What Happens If An Appeal Is Accepted Against Refusal To Right To Buy?

If you are successful you will hear back from the council (or the social housing landlord). In case of their agreement to sell, the landlord’s response will include their offer as well as the following:

  • their asking price for the property
  • the amount of discount that they are willing to offer
  • a detailed description of the property along with any land that is part of it 
  • details of any structural problems with the property or any service charges due

Once your application is approved under the Right To Buy scheme you will be required to follow the below steps in order to purchase your council house:

  • Fill out an online RTB application form by providing the desired information.
  • Save a copy of the online form, print it and send it to your landlord.
  • Wait for your landlord’s response. (This may take anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks).

How Else Can I Buy My Council House Other Than Right To Buy?

In addition to the Right To Buy Scheme, there is also an option of buying your council house under a joint application. In this case, it is essential for the applicant to either file their council house application with someone as their joint owner and be willing to share their responsibilities as a house owner or have up to three family members (who have lived with them for at least 12 months) willing to share ownership rights.

Under “Preserved Right To Buy” you can purchase a council house that you lived in but the council sold it to a housing association landlord.

In case, you are a housing association tenant, you can apply for the purchase of your council house by filling the  Right to Acquire Application Form To be eligible, your must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. However, you should not apply under the Right To Buy or Preserved Right To Buy schemes.

Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.


The discussion in this article highlights the potential reasons why council authorities can refuse a Right to Buy application. While the authorities (as well as landlords) do share their reasons when a refusal is made, applicants have the option to appeal against a decision that they don’t agree with.

FAQs: Can Council Refuse Right To Buy?

Is Right to Buy stopping in England?

No, the Right to Buy scheme is not stopping in England despite being around for more than 40 years. However, fewer people now qualify to purchase their council property.

How long does it take for Right to Buy to go through?

If you’ve applied to purchase council property under the Right to Buy scheme, you can expect to receive the council’s response within 8 weeks in the case of a council house and 12 weeks in the case of a council flat or maisonette.

Can I buy my council house while on Universal Credit?

Yes, you can buy your council house while you are on Universal Credit (or any other state benefit). The benefit payment that you receive will count as income with regard to the calculation of your mortgage plan while making the purchase.

Do I need a deposit for Right to Buy?

No, you don’t need a deposit if you buy a council house under the Right to Buy scheme. Council homes are priced much lower than private property to make them affordable for those who are on a low income.

Can my boyfriend buy my council house?

Yes, your boyfriend can buy your council house for you or both of you can buy it under a joint tenancy agreement.


Your Right to Buy Your Home: – A guide for tenants of councils and registered providers, including housing associations

Right to buy scheme for council tenants – Shelter England

Right to Buy: buying your council home: Appeals – GOV.UK

Solve a residential property dispute: Apply to the tribunal – GOV.UK