The demand for council housing has risen quite sharply over the years as compared to the supply for much needed affordable housing options for vulnerable and low-income groups in the UK. The aim of this blogpost is to examine the rules governing the purchase of council property in Wales. For a comapritive view, we will also explore the rules regarding buying a council house in other parts of the UK.
What Are The New Rules About Buying A Council House In Wales?
Under the Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights Act that was instilled in the year 2019 in Wales, council housing tenants can no longer purchase council property under the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire schemes.
Prior to this decision, Welsh citizens living in council homes could purchase their council house under the Right to Buy scheme if they had been living in the property as their main home and it was a self-contained unit. This meant that depending on the number of years spent living in council housing, they could buy their council house at a discounted price (in comparison with the market rates of private property) of up to £8,000.
The reasons cited for this drastic change to council housing purchase rules by the Welsh government include the following:
- increase the supply of council housing in Wales
- encourage social housing landlords to provide affordable accommodation
Research suggests that between the years 1981 and 2016, around 139,000 local council and housing association properties lead to a large number of people in vulnerable conditions unable to gain access to state housing under affordable rents. Therefore, this step taken by the Welsh government is expected to replenish the decreasing stock of social housing for deserving claimants.
What Are The New Rules About Buying A Council House In The Rest Of The UK?
There have been no new rules introduced in England for council housing tenants especially under the Right to Buy scheme.
Meanwhile, the current UK government has announced their plan to revive the Right to Buy scheme in England for tenants of housing associations; allowing them to purchase their housing association homes at a discounted price.
Earlier on, the government had also launched a pilot project in partnership with the National Housing Association in 2018 across the East and Midland for claimants of Voluntary Right to Buy.
On the other hand, council housing tenants can no longer buy their council houses in Scotland. Prior to the legislation passed by the Scottish Government and up until the year 2016, Scottish council housing tenants could buy their council homes in the same way as their counterparts in England. However, the government announced an end of this scheme by disallowing the purchase of council homes under the Right to Buy scheme for new tenants in 2016 and scrapped it completely in 2017.
Additionally, the government of Northern Ireland has announced that as per The Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020 council housing tenants will no longer be able to purchase their council homes from August 2022 onwards.
What Is The Right To Buy Scheme?
One of the most common ways to purchase council property is the Right To Buy Scheme which allows council tenants to purchase the property that they are living in.
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
The key takeaway regarding new rules about buying a council house in Wales is the fact that the Right to Buy scheme has been abolished due to which council tenants can no longer purchase their council houses. In fact, the Welsh government is encouraging and provinding incentives social housing landlords to meet the growing demand for social housing accommodation that has suffered greatly as a result of council property being sold.
FAQs: What Are The New Rules About Buying A Council House In Wales?
Will Right to Buy come back to Wales?
At the moment there is no reason to expect that the Right to Buy scheme for council housing will come back to Wales.
Does Right to Buy still exist?
Yes, the Right to Buy scheme is still applicable in England and Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, it has been abolished in Scotland and Wales.
How long does the Right to Buy process take?
It usually takes 8 weeks for the notice to come in if you have applied for a council house under the Right to Buy Scheme. In the case of a flat or maisonette, it may take up to 12 weeks.
When did Right to Buy end in Wales?
The Right to Buy (including Preserved Right To Buy And Extended Right To Buy) and Right to Acquire schemes were abolished in Wales on 26th January 2019.
No, you don’t need a deposit for buying a property under the Right to Buy scheme.