How Do I Know If My House Is An Ex-Council House?
Council property is known for its spacious living space and sturdy structures. This blog post aims to explain how someone can find out if the property they own or intend to own is an ex-council house. Additionally, we will also delve into the details of purchasing a council house, the conditions and eligibility criteria and whether or not council property can be sold by private owners after purchasing it from local authorities.
How Do I Know If My House Is An Ex-Council House?
Whether you are seeking information regarding a property that you have already purchased or intend to purchase, there are mainly two ways for you to find out if your house is an ex-council house:
- you can either ask the estate agent through whom you purchased or are looking to purchase a property; or
- you can check the details of the previous possession of the property by purchasing a copy of the title deed from Land Registry for a nominal fee.
However, this information will only be available to you if the property that you are inquiring about is already purchased by you or currently listed on the market and is available for sale.
If you have the exact address of the property you can visit the information section of the Land Registry website, enter the postal address and get details about the property’s previous ownership as well as the extension of its general boundaries. The service can give information regarding the current ownership of the property free of cost; however, to download the title register of a property you will need to pay a fee of £3 for each copy of a title register or a title plan. For this purpose, you will need an email address, debit or credit card.
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
Can I Buy An Ex Council House?
Yes, you can buy an ex-council house. 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.
How Can I Buy A Council House?
Council houses are freehold property. This means that when you purchase a council house, the land also belongs to you.
One of the most common ways to purchase council property is the Right To Buy Scheme which 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.
The Voluntary Right To Buy scheme 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 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
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.
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.
You can find out if you live in an ex-council property by asking your estate agent or looking up details of the property on the Land Registry portal and paying a small fee. The advantage of living in an ex-council property is the spacious area, extra storage and strong structure of the property. If you are an ex-council tenant, you can purchase your council by indicating your interest to local authorities and applying through the Right To Buy or Right To Acquire scheme (whichever is applicable).
FAQs: How Do I Know If My House Is An Ex-Council House?
Are ex-council houses worth lesser in value?
Yes, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, ex-council houses are generally cheaper by 20 per cent as compared to private properties.
Do ex-council properties increase in value?
Ex-council properties may rise in value in consideration of inflation and rising prices in the real estate sector in general; however, they will remain cheaper as compared to private properties.
Will the council buy back my ex-council house?
While council authorities are under no obligation to buy back your ex-council house, you can make an offer to them when you intend to sell it and they may consider buying back the property.
Are ex-council houses freehold?
Yes, ex-council houses are freehold properties, while council flats are sold on leasehold terms.
Can I rent my ex-council flat?
Yes, you can rent your ex-council flat. The council has no restrictions against the sub-letting of property.