Buying your council house does not only include payment for the property itself but a host of other expenses that are organically part and parcel of the purchasing process. These may include payments or repayments for mortgage or interest, council tax bills, water charges, insurance for contents and building and general repair and maintenance expenses. Before making a purchase, it would be helpful to seek the guidance of a Financial Advisor who may help you reduce your expenses or at least manage them efficiently as you embark on your decision to purchase the property. 

Can I Buy My Council House For Cash?

Yes, you can buy your council house for cash. In fact, it is the buyer’s choice to decide whether they choose to purchase their council house with cash or through a mortgage.

One of the most common ways to purchase council property is the Right To Buy Scheme. 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


However, the Right To Buy Scheme only allows council tenants to purchase the property that they are living in and not any other council house that they may be interested in. In some cases, council housing tenants are eligible for the Cash Incentive Scheme or easy Home Purchase Scheme; but to avail of any of these, they will be required to forfeit their council accommodation and purchase a house in the open market. Their purchase will be supported by local council authorities.

To Find out if you’re eligible for Right to Buy – Own Your Home contact your local council.

To learn more about the topic, we will explore the following areas:

  • How Can I Buy My Council House?
  • What Is The Right To Buy Scheme?
  • How Can I Apply For Right To Buy?
  • Can I Get A Discount On Purchasing A Council House?
  • Can My Children Take Over My Council House?

How Can I Buy My Council House?

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.

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 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.

The Right to Buy calculator can help you learn more about the discounts you are eligible for.

Can My Children Take Over My Council House?

Yes, your children can take over your council house if they are able to fulfil the following conditions:

  • The council house is their main home
  • They have lived there for at least 12 months 
  • It is a secure tenancy
  • There is no partner to inherit the council housing tenancy

If the tenancy agreement of the premises in question started before April 1, 2012, your children will gain succession rights to the council house of a family member if you’ve lived at least a year with them. However, if the tenancy agreement started on or after April 1, 2012, they will have succession rights only if you meet all the conditions that are pre-set in the tenancy agreement.

In order to show evidence that your children have lived in your council house with you for at least 12 months, they may need to provide bank statements, bills or letters addressed to them, marking the council property as your postal address. However, if there is a surviving spouse or unmarried partner, their right of succession will supersede your children’s.

You can take help from your local Citizen’s Advice office to learn more about succession rights.

Conclusion:

While there are many options on how to purchase a council house, applicants may not be successful in their attempts under the following conditions:

  • the council house that they wish to purchase is designed for the elderly or disabled 
  • the housing was provided to the applicant in connection to their employment

If you do manage to purchase your council house, you will automatically be purchasing the freehold of the property. In case of purchasing a council flat, you will be entitled to a 125-year lease on the flat, while ownership of the block remains with the council authorities.

FAQs: Can I Buy My Council House For Cash?

Can you give someone your council house?

You can exchange, pass on or assign the tenancy to your council house but you must seek the permission of your council authorities or social housing landlord as a formal transaction will not be possible without their approval in word and on paper. In some cases, the landlord may not agree to the change requested by you and you might need to file an appeal to your request.

Can I be refused the Right to Buy?

Yes, you can be refused the Right to Buy if you fail to meet any of the conditions of the eligibility criteria, you are not a Secure Tenant or you share Joint Tenancy and your joint tenant has refused to proceed.

Are council houses cheaper to buy?

Yes, council houses are generally cheaper to buy than properties listed on the open market. In fact, while purchasing a council house, you may be able to avail certain discounts as well to make the purchase affordable and convenient for buyers.

Can my friend stay in my council house?

Yes, your friends can stay in your council house every now and then but if their stay is long enough to consider your home as their main residence, you will have to inform your council authorities as they will consider this as a change in your living conditions.

Can I decorate my council house?

Yes, you can decorate your council house and may even get vouchers from your local council to avail discounted prices on items. However, in the case of home improvements, you will first need to seek permission from your local council or social housing landlord beforehand.

References:

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

Right to Buy Frequently Asked Questions

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

How house buyers can get a £110,000 discount by buying their home off the council – Mirror Online

Find out if you’re eligible for Right to Buy – Own Your Home

Taking over a tenancy

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