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Buying Your Council House

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Affordablehomeadvice

Many of us live in council houses and have done for many years and as time goes by we might want to consider buying a home depending on how our circumstances have changed. To this end many families are now considering their rights to buy the council houses in which they live as these are often much cheaper than other houses to buy and in the long term it means they do not have to move or have the hassle of searching for somewhere else to live.

Can I Buy My Council House?

The answer to this is yes you can; the Right to Buy allows most council tenants to buy their council home at a discount. However, there are different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

If I Buy My Council House Will It Be Cheaper?

Most certainly but you need to check with your local authority before making any definite moves to buy your property. The current discounts offered are; 35% if you’ve been a public sector housing tenant and 50% if you have been a tenant of a flat, for between 3 and 5 years. After 5 years, the discount goes up by 1% for every extra year you’ve been a public sector housing tenant (2% flat), up to a maximum of 70%. However, you’ll usually have to repay some or all your discount if you sell your home within 5 years.

How Do I Exercise My Right to Buy?

First off you should contact your local authority and make arrangements to speak with the housing officer who will give you all the details of how to go about buying your home. The local authority will tell you once you have a decision as to exactly how much they are asking for your property. You will have an allotted period of time to set everything in motion and it is recommended that you have a solicitor already prepared to assist you in purchasing your property.

You should be aware however that there are certain conditions attached to you buying your home.

Conditions laid down by the Local Council

Your local council will include certain clauses into any contract you enter into with them, the main one being that if you wish to sell the property within ten years of purchasing it from them that they are given first refusal. In other words you cannot sell the property to anyone other than the council within ten years of buying the house. This may sound limiting but the likelihood is you won’t want to sell your house within that time scale anyway given that most individuals who buy their council homes have lived in them for a long period of time already.

Can My Local Council Refuse to Sell Me my Council House?

Sadly yes they can and this is normally for reasons of debt or bankruptcy. If you have been declared bankrupt or are about to be declared bankrupt then the local authority may refuse to sell the property to you on the basis that you are a high risk. This can sometimes lead to a refusal for a mortgage and therefore can leave the council in the throes of a sale that cannot be completed. Likewise if you have had court proceedings instigated against you at another property ordering you to leave the local authority can refuse to sell the house to you.

You have three months from the time you enter into the buying of a house to complete the sale, if you have not completed by this time the local authority can refuse to sell you the property and pull out of any negotiations. Unfortunately that is their right just as it is yours. Once the three month period has expired the local authority can either give you more time to make the relevant arrangements or they can simply decide to negate any offers of purchase prices or discounts. You should be aware that if this is the case then the period in which you were eligible for discount can be returned to zero and you will have to wait another five years to try again.

What to Do First

Before entering into any firm agreements you should speak to your housing officer and find out from them how much the council would reasonably expect for the house you currently occupy. At this point you can then apply for a mortgage; there are many organisations specialising in mortgages for right-to-buy tenants and they can be found in your local Yellow Pages or business directory.

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[Add a Comment]
Hello I have seen a couple of people asking if they can buy a Council property that they have never lived in, because A) their Grandmother lives there and B) I want it as an investment for my children's future. Are you two serious ? You obviously know that you aren't legally allowed, or you would be going to the Council to ask. As touched upon in one of your messages, 'a way around this'... These properties are for the HOMELESS and not for people like you, to make a quick few quid. Your Mother-in-law will not be booted out, with nowhere to go, as you are probably, fully aware. I'm assuming she is on the Tenancy...if not, then she could be added. Reset align your moral compasses...
hally77 - 25-Mar-17 @ 12:49 AM
Hi i have been a council tenent for nearly 30yrs i would like to buy when i first moved it was council then taken over by s.h.a i have been in my house 15yrs
Jilly - 10-Feb-17 @ 11:20 AM
My mother said she did the right to buy on a previous house and said she can not do it twice is this true
Jake - 30-Jan-17 @ 7:44 PM
Hello, I live in a terrace of three bungalows and some time over the next few years we are looking to buy our property from the local council. However, we have a concern. The property we live in is a one bed bungalow, and forms part of a terrace of three identical properties. Initially we didint have any concerns about buying as the property next door to us was bought by the former tennant, from the local council. However, When we spoke to the tennant we ascertained that the only was the person next door was able to buy their property was to take the local council to court as they initially refused to sell her the property on the grounds that the property was to be kept for elderly people. She obviously won, and was able to buy. However, could that persons sucess mean things would be OK for us, or could we have the same problems? Surly the fact that we have a owner next, would be mean they couldnt refuse to sell to us! Has anyone got any advice or experiance on this matter. Phil.
Mutley - 9-Oct-16 @ 11:20 AM
Hello, I live in a terrace of three bungalows and some time over the next few years we are looking to buy our property from the local council. However, we have a concern. The property we live in is a one bed bungalow, and forms part of a terrace of three identical properties. Initially we didint have any concerns about buying as the property next door to us was bought by the former tennant, from the local council. However, When we spoke to the tennant we ascertained that the only was the person next door was able to buy their property was to take the local council to court as they initially refused to sell her the property on the grounds that the property was to be kept for elderly people. She obviously won, and was able to buy. However, could that persons sucess mean things would be OK for us, or could we have the same problems? Surly the fact that we have a owner next, would be mean they couldnt refuse to sell to us! Has anyone got any advice or experiance on this matter. Phil.
Mutley - 9-Oct-16 @ 10:38 AM
Hi are we getting maximum of 70/100 discount or 103995 I don't inderstand becouse it makes big difference 400 k house with max of 103k in London is 297k but with 70/100 discount it's 120k been tenant for 20 years
sami - 30-Sep-16 @ 3:52 PM
What about survey before I buy? Can I get an in dependant sirveyor
Saorcia - 6-Sep-16 @ 10:35 PM
Pleas canyou help mi for both house with program for nurse i m nurse Thankyou!
Nurse - 27-May-16 @ 12:22 PM
This is a wrong advice. Its not 10 years, its 5 years!
har - 31-Mar-16 @ 7:12 PM
Hi if I bought my house would I have to pay a deposit straight away or because it is a council house I would not have to
Jamie downton - 29-Mar-16 @ 3:01 AM
Gemma - Your Question:
Myself and my partner have our own house and have a mortgage on this, however we are looking to buy my nan's council house as an additional property with her consent. She has lived in her house for 80 plus years. Where do we stand with this? would we be eligible and if so what do we need to do first to get the ball rolling?

Our Response:
Please see the gov.uk link here which should answer your questions.
AffordableHomeAdvice - 24-Aug-15 @ 12:06 PM
myself and my partner have our own house and have a mortgage on this, however we are looking to buy my nan's council house as an additional property with her consent. She has lived in her house for 80 plus years. Where do we stand with this? would we be eligible and if so what do we need to do first to get the ball rolling?
Gemma - 21-Aug-15 @ 12:46 PM
@H - I have included the gov.uk site where you can check your eligibility here. I hope this helps.
AffordableHomeAdvice - 14-Jan-15 @ 9:56 AM
Hi I was a local Council tenant from 1991 - 2001(local housing assoc took over in 2000) I then moved to Scotland (private house) but had to come back due to personal reasons. We applied to go on the local housing register and after 6months of living with parents were put into a private rental through the housing people and then in 2005 were given a local housing company house. We exchanged to larger home in 2006 then to a smaller home in 2012 where we now live. Do I have the RTB? Thanks in advance for any help
H - 13-Jan-15 @ 12:39 PM
Hi both of my parents in law are in a council house in Wolverhampton and have been for 39 years. I am concerned about their health as neither can physically work but only my father in law is on disability benefit. If anything happened to him then mother in law would be out of the house, expected to work etc but she's so nervous that he can't bring herself to leave the house. I'm considering the right to buy scheme so that she would always have a roof over her head and as an investment for my children's future, but I've never lived there myself. Is there any way I can do this?
Sarah - 29-May-14 @ 11:00 AM
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