Once you have bought your council house you are entitled to all the benefits of owning your own home and well as the responsibilities. However, on the sale of the property, in the interest of good estate management, the Council imposes a number of requirements with which you need to comply. The principal requirements are as follows:
- The property can only be used as a single private residence.
- Any additions or alterations to the exterior will require the written consent of the Council.
If you wish to carry out works to the exterior such as erecting a conservatory, building an extension or erecting a garage, you will need to obtain the written consent of the Council as the former landlord of the property. Requests for any alterations should be made to the Council's Commercial Property Manager. You should be aware that if you sell your home the purchaser's solicitor is likely to request a copy of the written consent for any exterior alterations undertaken (any alterations to the property may also require planning permission or building regulations consent. Advice on these issues is available from the Council).
Flats and maisonettes
If your home is a flat or maisonette you will have entered into a long lease. This will allow you and your successors to live in the property for a fixed number of years (up to 125 years). Although the property is leasehold you can sell these rights in much the same way as a freeholder.
Because of the nature of the property there is an ongoing relationship with the Council as the freeholder of the building in which you live. The lease defines the responsibilities of each party but, in general terms, the freeholder will be responsible for looking after the structure of the building, the common areas and the provision of services to the building. As a leaseholder you will be responsible for paying your share of the costs incurred by the freeholder in managing the building. These costs will usually include:
- Ground rent.
- External repairs and repairs to the shared areas (common parts),
- The provision of services to the building,
- The insurance of the building
Before carrying out any alterations please refer to the terms of your lease as the landlord's consent may be required for those works.
Buying the Freehold
Long leaseholders may have a right to buy the freehold of the building (enfranchisement) or have a right to renew their lease.
Further information about long leasehold interest and buying your flat is available in the Communities and Local Government booklets "Thinking of Buying a Council Flat" and "Residential Long Leaseholders - A guide to your rights and responsibilities".
Contact the Right to Buy Officer for more information. 01623 457285
The repayment of the discount is registered as a charge against the property for the period the discount is repayable. Therefore, if you need to borrow further sums to carry out the improvements to the property a lender is likely to require the Council's discount repayments to be postponed behind the loan. Should you require further information regarding this matter you are recommended you contact the Council.
Selling your home
Once you have bought your home you may sell it at any time. However, dependent on when you bought the property, you may initially have to offer the property back to the Council and some or all of the discount received when you bought the property may be repayable.
Offer back to the Council
The Housing Act 1985 requires that the sale terms include an obligation to offer the property back to the Council or to another social landlord at the full market value for a period of ten years. If you offer has not been accepted within a period of eight weeks you may sell the property on the open market.
Repayment of the discount
You may sell your property purchased under the Right to Buy but all or part of the discount received on the purchase of the property may be repayable to the Council.
If you applied for the Right to Buy on or after the 18th January 2005 and you sell the property within five years of buying the property, discount will be repayable. The amount of discount repayable will be based on a percentage of the resale value of the property, disregarding the value of any improvements you may have undertaken. You will have to repay all or part of the discount received as follows:
Discount given x 100 = %Discount
New valuation x %Discount = 100% Repayable Discount
|Period property was sold||Discount Repayable|
|Within the first year of purchase||The whole discount|
|Within the second year of purchase||80% of the discount|
|Within the third year of purchase||60% of the discount|
|Within the fourth year of purchase||40% of the discount|
|Within the fifth year of purchase||20% of the discount|
Discount given for the Right to Buy is attached to the tenants who purchased the property. If it is repossessed and you move to another property, the Council has the right to ask for any discount which remains unpaid. The Housing Act 2004 emphasises that the Council has a discretion whether or not to demand repayment of the full amount of the discount. However, not to recover the full amount due has implications for public funds. Therefore, it is anticipated that the Council will only exercise its discretion in exceptional circumstances where there is clear and objective evidence for the reasons why the discount should not be repaid in full. Further information on the discretionary powers on repayment of discount is available is available from the Council's Estates section.