What Is the Right To Buy in 2022?

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The rent to buy scheme has been around since 1980 to help tenants in social housing buy their long-term homes. In this guide, we go through what the right to buy scheme is and how it works.


What Is the Right to Buy Scheme?

The right to buy scheme gives council house tenants the ability to buy their council house at a discount. Right to buy has allowed many lower income households to gain a foothold on the property ladder without having to pay the full market value of a property.

  • Right To Buy Timeline
  • 1980 - Right to buy first introduced by the Thatcher government with the Housing Act 1980
  • 2005 - A 5 year living period was introduced before having the right to buy.
  • 2011 - The right to buy discount was increased to 60% of the property’s value.
  • 2016 - The right to buy was extended to housing associations.
  • 2017 - Both Scotland and Wales voted to abolish the right to buy.
  • 2018 - In England, the time you had to have lived in the property was reduced from 5 years to 3 years.
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How Does Right To Buy Work?

Right to buy gives tenants the right to own their social housing property after they have lived there for 3 to 5 years. The right to buy discounts the market value of your property by a certain amount depending on how long you’ve lived there and what type of property it is.

Right to Buy Example Say you have been living in a public sector property for the past 3 years and have decided to exercise your right to buy and own the property. The property on the market is worth £150,000 and it is a house.

In this case, you would qualify for 35% off the property, which is £52,500. You would take away the discount from the original price:

£150,000 (market value) - £52,500 (35% discount) = £97,500 left to pay

What Is the Right To Buy Discount?

The full amount you are discounted will depend on the type of property and how long you have been living there for. This means you will quite often get a bigger discount on your property the longer you’ve been living there. There is also a maximum discount that depends on whether the property is inside or outside London.

Right to Buy Discount Rates
Details House Flat
Initial Discount 35% 50%
Yearly Increase 1% 2%
Maximum in England 70% or £87,200 70% or £87,200
Maximum in London 70% or £116,200 70% or £116,200

Source: UK government website

Is Right To Buy Stopping?

Right to buy is still offered in England and the current UK government is looking to extend the policy even further. That being said, Scotland and Wales no longer offer the scheme and in Northern Ireland right to buy is much more limited.

Can I Get a Right To Buy Mortgage?


Even with the right to buy a discount on your property, buying a home is a big decision and you’ll unlikely have all the money together to buy it outright. In most cases, you’ll still need to get a mortgage in order to pay for the property.

Do You Need a Deposit for Right To Buy?

One of the best things about right to buy is that mortgage lenders will usually accept the right to buy discount as a deposit. So instead of scraping together enough money to afford the down payment for your house, your lender will regard the discount as equivalent. However, this is not always the case and some lenders will also ask you for a deposit.

Can You Get a Mortgage If You Are on Benefits?

Mortgage lenders cannot discriminate against lending to you if part of your income includes benefits. Usually, a lender will want you to have a steady income so they know you’ll be making your mortgage payments on time. That being said, they will need you to have a good credit history, so make sure you haven’t missed any payments for rent or bills.

Who Has the Right To Buy?

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The right to buy is available to tenants who are living in public sector housing. Public sector housing can include council houses or flats and those properties rented out by housing associations. In order to be eligible for a council property, you generally must be:

  1. On no or low income
  2. Have a local connection to the area

Check out our Council House guide!

What Qualifies Me for Right To Buy?

In order to fully qualify for the right to buy scheme, you’ll need to be eligible. For a tenant to have the right to buy, they will need to:

  1. Be living in council housing
  2. Have a secured tenancy
  3. Have lived in the property for 3-5 years
  4. Use the property as your main home

What’s a secured tenancy? A secured tenancy is where you have the permanent right to live in your council property for the rest of your life. You will have to follow the terms of your tenancy, but you will have the highest protection on your occupancy in the property.

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How Do I Apply for Right To Buy?

If you fulfil all the requirements, you’ll then need to apply for the right to buy your council house or flat. You’ll need to fill in a form online and then send it to your landlord for them to make an offer.

How Do I Fill In the Right To Buy Application?

You’ll need to head to the Own Your Own Home government website to fill in the Right To Buy Application Form (RTB1) online. You’ll have to go through a 6 step process and fill in all the correct details.

  1. Address and Landlord
    You’ll first need to fill in the address of the property you’re currently living in and want to buy. You’ll also need to fill in your landlord’s name (this will usually be the council or housing association you’re renting from.
  2. Tenants’ Details
    You’ll then need to give a full list of the tenants living in the property and their details including title and names. You can also list any family members over the age of 18. For each tenant and family member, you’ll need to indicate if they want to buy.
  3. Qualification for Discount
    You should then fill in how long you’ve been in the council house or housing association property for. You’ll need to indicate any previous tenancies you’ve had in council houses and also those of your other tenants and family members. You’ll need to sign the Authority to Disclose box at the bottom.
  4. Previous Discount
    If you’ve received a right to buy discount before you should indicate it.
  5. Tenant Improvements
    Include any improvements that you have made to the property. For example include information about double glazing or a fitted kitchen that might affect the value of the property.
  6. Signatures
    Remember to sign everything at the end of the form once you’ve printed it off. Everyone will need to sign the form, even those who don’t want to buy.

After Filling In the Application Form

After you’ve filled in the right to buy an application form, you’ll need to print it off and sign it. Then you should send it to your landlord and they will have 4 weeks to make you an offer or reject your application.

How Do I Accept a Landlord’s Offers on Right To Buy?

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If your landlord comes back to you with an offer, you will have 12 weeks to accept the offer or reject it. Your landlord will tell you their price for the property and how your discount applies to it. They will also need to indicate to you any other problems with the property such as structural issues.

If you don’t agree with your landlord’s offer, you can ask for an independent valuation for the property if you think the valuation is too high.

After You’ve Bought Your Property

After you’ve bought the property, the ownership will be transferred to you and your tenancy will come to an end. Any housing benefit you received will also end, so you’ll need to pay for your utilities and other household services yourself.

You will also be responsible for any maintenance of the property, so you should also look into insurance and boiler cover to make sure your home is protected.

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