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Right to Buy

Find a Right to Buy mortgage

Our expert broker partner Mojo can help find you a mortgage to allow you to buy a home with the Right to Buy scheme.

We've partnered with Mojo Mortgages who can compare Right to Buy mortgage deals from different lenders

  • Advisers who can look at mortgage rates from across the market

  • Get an expert-recommended deal

  • They can help you apply when you're ready

What is a Right to Buy?

Right to Buy is a government scheme that allows council tenants to buy their home at a discount on the market value. Some tenants who live in ex-council homes may also qualify through the preserved Right to Buy. 

The scheme is currently only available in England, having been withdrawn in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - although each has other home ownership schemes available.

To buy your home through the scheme you’ll also need to find a mortgage lender that welcomes Right to Buy applicants. Not all lenders support this type of application but a mortgage broker can help you find one.

How much is the Right to Buy discount?

The discount varies depending on whether you’re buying a council house or flat, and how long you’ve been a public sector tenant. 

It’s also capped at whichever is lower, 70% of the property value or £96,010 outside of London, £127,940 in London. This maximum discount threshold increases every April with the consumer price index.

If you’re buying a house the discount is: 

35% for a tenancy of 3-5 years and 1% more for each year longer than that - to a maximum of 70%. For example, if you’d lived in public sector property for 10 years, you would get a 40% discount.

If you’re buying a flat the discount is:

50% for a tenancy of 3-5 years and 2% more for each year longer than that - to a maximum of 70%. For example, if you’d lived in public sector property for 10 years, you would get a 60% discount.

Your discount may be reduced if:

  • You’ve used the scheme before
  • Your landlord has spent money on maintaining or improving your property in the past 10 years - and it was acquired by them before 2 April 2012
  • Your landlord has spent money on maintaining or improving your property in the past 15 years - if it’s ex-council or it was acquired by them after 2 April 2012

If your landlord has spent more on your home than it’s currently worth, you won’t get a discount at all.

Learn more about the Right to Buy scheme and discount on the gov.uk website.

Am I eligible for Right to Buy?

You must meet the following criteria to qualify for the Right to Buy scheme:

  • It must be your only or main home
  • You must have a secure or flexible tenancy - one that lasts a lifetime
  • It must be a ‘self-contained’ home - so have no shared rooms, such as the kitchen or bathroom
  • The property can’t be sheltered or adapted for over people over 60 or with disabilities
  • You can’t have any major debts or anti-social behaviour orders
  • You must have been a public sector tenant for at least 3 years

What is a public sector tenant?

You can only apply for the scheme if you currently live in a property that is or used to be owned by a council. Although to boost your discount you can add time spent in any of the following public sector properties to your total tenancy time, even if it wasn’t directly before your current one: 

  • Council or ex-council
  • Housing association
  • NHS trust
  • Armed forces

You also can use the Right to Buy eligibility quiz on the government website to find out if the scheme is open to you.

Should I buy with Right to Buy?

  • The discount could make home ownership possible if it wasn’t before
  • Some mortgage lenders let you use the discount as a deposit, meaning you won’t need to save one
  • Property ownership is an investment - property value typically increases over time
  • You can alter the property to suit you, without any council restrictions
  • You’re responsible for paying a mortgage - a greater commitment than rent
  • There are other costs involved with buying a home on top of mortgage repayments, such as arrangement and legal fees
  • Some mortgage lenders ask for a cash deposit - a mortgage broker can help you find one that doesn’t if you don’t have one
  • You’ll need to pay for your own repairs
  • If you buy a council flat it’s probably a leasehold property, meaning you’ll have additional maintenance costs
  • If you sell your home within 5 years, you’ll need to repay some of the discount
  • Property value can fall as well as rise

How do I apply for Right to Buy?

  • You can find the Right to Buy application form on GOV.UK. Complete the form and send it to your landlord
  • Your landlord must reply in 4 weeks or 8 weeks if you’ve been their tenant for less than 3 years
  • If they agree to sell, they have 8 weeks to send you an offer for a freehold property (most houses) or 12 weeks for a leasehold property (mostly flats). If they refuse to sell they must explain why
  • You have 12 weeks to accept their offer or not
  • If you accept, you'll need to find a suitable mortgage. Our partners at Mojo offer free advice and can help you to find the right mortgage for your needs

Can I sell my Right to Buy home?

You can sell a property that you’ve bought using the Right to Buy scheme, but there are some restrictions:

If sold within 10 years:

You have to offer it back to your landlord and other public sector landlords first. They have 8 weeks to decide whether to rebuy it before you can advertise it to other sellers

If sold within 5 years:

You’ll also have to repay some of the discount, depending on how long you’ve owned it - 

  • 100% of the discount must be repaid if sold in the first year
  • 80% of the discount must be repaid if sold in the second year
  • 60% of the discount must be repaid if sold in the third year
  • 40% of the discount must be repaid if sold in the fourth year
  • 20%of the discount must be repaid if sold  in the fifth year

Rural Right to Buy properties often have additional restrictions - be sure to check the terms on your offer.

What our expert says

If you're a council tenant, Right to Buy could be your way to become a home owner. There's no lengthy search for a dream home, you get a discount and may not even need a deposit. A mortgage broker can help you find the right mortgage to use.

Claire Flynn, Senior Content Editor at Mojo
Senior Content Editor | Mojo, Mortgages Expert | Confused.com Mojo logo

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Right to Buy mortgage FAQs

Are Right to Buy and Right to Acquire the same?

No, it’s similar, but not the same. Right to Acquire is for housing association tenants only. The discounts are fixed and smaller than those available to Right to Buy applicants - between £9,000 and £16,000.

The rules are similar, so you’ll need to have lived in public sector property for at least 3 years. If your housing association home used to be owned by the council, you may also be eligible for the Right to Buy scheme. Ask your landlord if you have ‘preserved' Right to Buy.

Learn more about the Right to Acquire scheme on the GOV.UK. website.

Can I make a joint mortgage application with Right to Buy?

Yes you can, but they’ll need to meet the terms of the scheme, which state:

Joint applicants must either: 

  • Be on the same tenancy
  • Be a family member who has lived with you for 12 months or more
  • Be your spouse or civil partner

If you’re buying with another tenant, the discount is based on who’s been a public sector tenant the longest - not added together.

Up to 3 family members who meet the above criteria can be added to the application, and some mortgage lenders allow up to 4 applicants on a joint mortgage.

Can my children buy my home for me?

If your children don’t live with you, they can't be on the Right to Buy application and own the home jointly with you. Nothing legally prevents them from helping you with the mortgage costs though.

You could use a joint borrower sole proprietor mortgage, where their income is used to help you meet the affordability criteria. They could also help you to buy using a family assist or more traditional guarantor mortgage.

If they want to buy you the house without your help it should also be possible, but you’ll need to speak to a broker. 

What if I live in an ex-council home?

If you live in an ex-council house that is now owned by another public sector landlord, such as a housing association, you may have the preserved Right to Buy.

This depends on when the property ownership changed, so it’s best to ask your landlord.

What should I do if I disagree with my landlord's offer?

If you disagree with the price the landlord offers to sell your home for, you should contact them to explain why.

You have 3 months to do so, and must also ask them for an independent property valuation. An HMRC district valuer then assesses the value of your home and you’ll have 12 weeks to accept their figure or turn it down.

Is Right to Buy the same as Rent to Buy?

No, it’s an entirely different scheme. Both are to help people get onto the property ladder, but the rent to buy scheme is only available through housing associations. 

It’s known by a range of different names depending on where you live. You can find more information about Rent to Buy on the GOV.UK. site.

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Page last reviewed: 18 September 2023

Reviewed by: Claire Flynn


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