Most Council tenants will have the Right to Buy. However, the Housing Act 1985 sets out certain criteria which must be satisfied if you are to buy your home:
- You must be a secure tenant.
- You must be a public sector tenant for a specified period.
- From 26 May 2015 you will have the Right to Buy with 3 or 4 years tenancy and receive 35% discount for a house and 50% discount for a flat
- Your property must be your only or principal home.
- You must disclose whether you hold any other tenancies, solely or jointly, anywhere else in the UK.
- You must disclose ownership, solely or jointly, any other residential property or land, either in the UK or abroad.
- You must not be an undischarged bankrupt or have a bankruptcy petition pending against you or have made an arrangement with creditors (people you owe money to) and you still owe them money.
- You must not be the subject of a Court Possession Order which means that you must leave your home.
Tenancies with the Council or with another "Right to Buy" landlord (other local authorities, recognised housing associations and periods in the armed forces) will contribute towards this period. If you occupy the property under an Introductory Tenancy you are not eligible to apply to buy the property until you are a secure tenant. However, this period will count towards the 3 year tenancy you need to qualify to purchase your council home.
If you occupy a council house you will normally be purchasing a freehold interest in the property (unless the Council owns a long leasehold interest in the property). If you occupy a council flat you will be entitled to purchase a long lease (up to 125 years) in the property. The purchase of your council house / flat will normally include any land or buildings included within your secure tenancy. Therefore, your garden or a garage will be included within the purchase. However, any garage or garden land held on a separate lease or agreement will not form part of the purchase.
It is the tenant or joint tenants who have the Right to Buy. However, members of your family who have lived with you for at least 12 months prior to the application may be able to exercise the Right to Buy jointly with you.
Exception to the Right to Buy
In certain circumstances you will not be entitled to buy your home. You cannot usually buy the following types of property:
- homes particularly suitable for occupation by the elderly,
- sheltered housing for the elderly,
- homes secured for homeless people,
- temporary lettings where you did not have a secure tenancy in your previous home while the home was being improved or repaired,
- homes due for demolition.
If you have any doubt whether you have the Right to Buy you should either submit the RTB1 application form for a decision or seek advice from the Council's Right to Buy Officer. This can also be checked at the Communities and Local Government website.