The ability to buy a council house is subject to the applicant’s ability to meet the required conditions of purchase that apply to specific schemes for council housing. Through this article, we aim to learn if there are any new rules to be kept in view when making the purchase decision about a council house. In addition to this, we will also explore the ways through which a council house can be bought and explore whether a council house can be purchased at a discount.

What Are The New Rules Regarding Buying A Council House?

There have been no new rules introduced in England for council housing tenants especially under the Right to Buy scheme. This means that interested individuals can purchase council houses under the previous conditions such as that the applicant is a secure tenant, they have lived in a council house for a minimum period of three years, the council house is their main home and that it is a self-contained property

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. 

This was a £200m project allowing claimants to purchase their council house under the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme at the same level of discounts that are available under the Right to Buy scheme.

Meanwhile, 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 to 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.

On the other hand, the government of Northern Ireland has announced that as per The Housing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2020council housing tenants will no longer be able to purchase their council homes from August 2022 onwards.

How Can I Buy A Council House?

One of the most common ways to purchase council property in England is the Right To Buy Scheme. However, this 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 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. Meanwhile, Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.

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, you must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. 

How Can I Buy A Council House Under Right To Buy?

Under the Right to Buy scheme, 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
  • There are no pending debt disputes against the applicant


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.

Can I Get A Discount While Buying 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.

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 Acquire 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 be reduced if you have previously applied 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.

Conclusion:

The above discussion brings us to the conclusion that while there are no new rules regarding the purchase of council homes, residents of housing associations would be pleased to learn that the Right to Buy scheme is being revived for their benefit. This means that they will be able to buy their housing association home once again but this time under the Right to Buy scheme.

FAQs: What Are The New Rules Regarding Buying A Council House?

How long do you have to be in a council house before you can buy it in Ireland?

You should be receiving social housing support for at least 10 years before you can buy a council house in Ireland.

Is buying a council house a good investment?

Yes, buying a council is generally considered to be a good investment as not only are they cheaper than private property but also more spacious and built with a sturdy structure.

Can I buy a house on benefits?

Yes, you can buy a house on benefits. In fact, your mortgage application has a better chance of being accepted if you have additional income or savings apart from your benefits.

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.

Can you get a mortgage on a council house?

Yes, you can get a mortgage on a  council house. However, you must be prepared for a lender’s credit check and the assessment of your income and expenses.

References:

Voluntary Right to Buy

Right to Buy: Housing association tenants

Boris Johnson plans to revive Right to Buy scheme | NationalWorld

Right to buy for housing association tenants ends in August 2022

Council housing – Social housing – gov. scot

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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John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.