Buying a house is one of the major financial decisions in one’s lifetime. Through this article, we will discuss whether you can buy an ex-council property, the details of how to proceed with buying the property and whether or not you can sell it later on.

Can I Buy An Ex Council House?

Yes, you can buy an ex-council house. In fact, a lot of people choose to buy council property as compared to private homes due to the following reasons:

  • council houses are built with a more sturdy and long-lasting structure
  • council houses are spacious with ample room for storage
  • council houses are nearly 20 per cent cheaper as compared to private properties 

While making the purchase, it is the buyer’s choice to decide whether they choose to purchase their council house with cash or through a mortgage. However, it is generally more difficult to arrange a mortgage for a council house and there is a detailed check on one’s finances. Also since smaller council houses are much more affordable, most people tend to buy them for cash.

One of the most common ways to purchase council property is the Right To Buy Scheme that applies to both current council housing tenants and those who may not live there anymore. Under this, council houses can be purchased by local council tenants by fulfiling the following conditions:

  • The council house is the applicant’s main home
  • The property is self-contained
  • The applicant is a secure tenant
  • The applicant has had a public sector landlord for at least five years


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 out 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.

Council houses are freehold property. This means that when you purchase a council house, the land also belongs to you.

What Is The Right To Buy Scheme?

The Right To Buy scheme was originally introduced in the UK around 40 years ago with the aim to provide discounts to council housing tenants who wish to purchase the property that they have lived in for a certain number of years. Although the scheme is now abolished in Wales and Scotland, council housing tenants in Northern Ireland and England continue to benefit from it as long as they can prove the following to confirm eligibility:

  • they are currently 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

Joint tenants are also required to fulfil the above criteria if they wish to apply for council house purchase under this scheme. In fact, applicants can apply with up to three family members who have lived with them for up to 12 months.

How Can I Apply For Right To Buy?

Under the Right To Buy (RTB) 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).

Your landlord may either choose to refuse by stating their reasons; which you can choose to appeal to should you not agree with the decision.

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

Can I Get A Discount On Purchasing A Council House?

Yes, if you are eligible for the Right To Buy scheme you will get a discount on purchasing a council house to a  maximum limit of £84,000 across England (except for certain boroughs in London where it is £112,800). The amount keeps increasing with the rise in the rate of inflation every year.

The discount that you may avail on purchasing a council house is primarily is based on the following factors:

  • The number of years that you’ve been a council housing tenant
  • Whether you intend to purchase a flat or a house
  • The monetary value of the property you intend to purchase

In the case of purchasing a council house, you may be able to get a 35 per cent discount; while in the case of a flat, it will be 50 per cent if you’ve lived in a council housing facility for between three to five years.

However, if you have applied under the Right To Aquire scheme, you will be able to get a discount of around £9,000 to £16,000 on the price of your property; depending upon where you live in the UK. This discount may reduce if you have previously applied for under a Right To Buy or Right To Acquire scheme.

Can My Son Buy My Council House For Me?

Yes, your son can buy your council house for you. If he lives with you, both of you can file a joint application and apply for co-ownership. However, if your son will not be sharing the council house with you, one of his options is to purchase the council house under the Right to Buy scheme. Through this, council houses can be purchased by local council tenants but there are certain basic conditions to be met. These include the following:

  • The council house is the applicant’s main home
  • The property is self-contained
  • The applicant is a secure tenant
  • The applicant has had a public sector landlord for at least five years

Family members who have not lived with you for at least the past 12 months cannot apply to purchase a council house for you under the Right To Buy scheme.

While family members can fund the purchase of a council house, the legal ownership of the property will be in the name of the resident.

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.

How Long After Buying A Council House Can You Sell It?

Although you can legally sell your council house anytime after the purchase and completion of documentation for transfer for ownership, however, if you sell it before the end of a five-year term, you will have to repay the discount that you availed under the Right to Buy Scheme. 

Similarly, if you sell your council house before the end of a ten-year term, you will first have to offer it for sale to your council authorities or social housing landlord before you list the property for sale in the open market. If the landlord does not agree to buy the property or there is a conflict in the price that you offer versus the one they are willing to pay and there is no settlement between both the parties within 8 weeks, you can list your council house for sale in the open market.

If you intend to sell your council house after purchasing it, you may not be able to do so without foregoing the discount you availed through the Right To Buy scheme until you’ve lived in the property for a minimum of 5 years after the purchase. 

Conclusion:

From this detailed discussion, it appears that there are much more advantages of buying a council house as compared to privately rented property, especially for individuals who are looking for ample space and a good bargain on their property. Depending on one’s occupancy status you may choose to apply to buy a council house under any of the relevant schemes that apply to you. Buyers will be glad to know that council houses are not only cheaper than privately owned property but you may also get further discounts on buying one.

FAQs: Can I Buy An Ex Council House?

Is it a good idea to buy an ex-council house?

Yes, it is generally a good idea to buy a council house as these are cheaper than privately owned properties, have stronger structures and ample space. Additionally, you can find them in ease of access locations in the city.

Are ex-council houses freehold?

Yes, council houses are freehold. This means that in addition to the property, buyers also own the land that it stands on. Meanwhile, council flats are not freehold and are available on a 125-year lease.

Do local authorities buy back ex-council houses?

While council authorities are not under any obligation to buy back council property after selling it, they may do so in certain cases.

How do I know if my property is ex-local authority?

If you are keen to inquire about the history of a property you can ask the estate agent or broker involved in the sale as they have all the necessary details regarding properties that they are dealing with.

Can I remortgage my ex-council house?

Yes, you can remortgage your council house only after you’ve kept possession of it for a minimum period of five years.

References:

EIGHT reasons every council tenant should buy their home | Daily Mail Online

Buying an ex-council house in London: the pros, cons and what to avoid | Evening Standard

The real pros and cons of buying an ex-council home | homify

Right to Buy

Buying Council Flat: Right To Buy – HomeOwners Alliance

Right To Buy Mortgage Scheme

Council housing: Buy your council home – GOV.UK

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

Right to Acquire: buying your housing association home – GOV.UK

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