Are you a council tenant looking to buy your home? You might be able to purchase it for a lot less than you first thought with the Right to Buy government scheme.

Right to Buy mortgage help

There are a few things to understand before we get started.

Right to Buy mortgages work in the same way as typical residential mortgages. In fact, anyone purchasing their council house through a Right to Buy scheme has access to the same mortgage deals as anyone else.

The amount you can borrow will depend on the market value of the property, the size of your deposit, and various affordability criteria such as your income and credit history.

The main purpose of the Right to Buy government scheme is to help council and housing association tenants buy their homes at discounted prices.

The discount you could potentially receive depends on:

  • How long you’ve been a tenant with a public sector landlord
  • The type of property you want to buy – e.g. a house or flat
  • The value of the property

To apply for the Right to Buy discount, both you and your property need to meet the following requirements.

You must:

  • Be a council tenant or have been a council tenant when your property was transferred from the council to a housing association – in the latter case, you would instead apply for the Preserved Right to Buy which we explain below
  • Have had a public sector landlord for at least 3 years
  • Be a secure tenant, not an introductory or flexible tenant
  • Not live in sheltered or other housing suitable for elderly or disable people
  • Not have any legal problems with debt
  • Not have any outstanding possession orders against you

Your council home must:

  • Be your only or main home
  • Be self-contained
  • Not be due to be demolished

If the council used to own your property but now it’s owned by a housing association, you may qualify for the Preserved Right to Buy.

What’s the Preserved Right to Buy?

The Preserved Right to Buy is for people who want to buy their ex-council home. You may have the Preserved Right to Buy if you were a secure council tenant living in your home at the time it was transferred from your council to a housing association.

Even though the Preserved Right to Buy has slightly different rules and regulations about who can apply, it’s still a form of the Right to Buy scheme and works in the same way; you receive a potential discount when you go to buy your property.

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    Keep reading to find information on the scheme and process and for answers to some of your main FAQ’s.

    You can also learn about the different types of mortgages and interest rates in our guide.

    Right to Buy: Frequently Asked Questions

    When purchasing through a property through Right to Buy, the percentage discount applied off the market value can vary; and is dependant on the type of property as well as how long you’ve been a tenant. The general outlines below will help you understand the percentage types:

    • For houses, you will be eligible for a 35% discount once you have been a public-sector tenant after three years’ of tenancy. Once you have reached five years’ tenancy, the discount will increase by 1% for each additional year that you’ve been a tenant of the public-sector.
    • For flats, you will be eligible for a 50% discount once you have been a public-sector tenant after three years’ of tenancy. Once you have reached five years’ tenancy, the discount will increase by 2% for each additional year that you’ve been a tenant of the public-sector.

    So, you meet the eligibility criteria and you have the means to buy your home, how do you actually apply for Right to Buy?

    All you need to do is complete the RTB1 application form and take it, or send it by recorded delivery, to your landlord.

    You’ll then have to wait for your landlord to confirm or deny whether you have the Right to Buy. If they respond by sending you an offer. This will outline the following:

    • The price they believe you should pay for your property
    • How the price was worked out
    • Your Right to Buy discount and how it was calculated
    • Description of the property, plus any land, that is included in the price
    • Estimates of service charges (for a flat or maisonette) for the first five years
    • Any existing problems with the property’s structure

    If your application is confirmed, you’ll receive an offer within 8 weeks for a freehold – typically a house – and 12 weeks for a leasehold property – typically a flat.

    You’ll then have up to 12 weeks to accept your landlord’s offer. In this time, you’ll have to find a solicitor, arrange a mortgage and have the house surveyed. We can help you with each of these steps. Simply call us on 01634 968111.

    You don’t have to take out a specific type of mortgage to purchase a Right to Buy property. However, securing a mortgage for a leasehold can be a little more complex, particularly if there isn’t long left on the lease.

    You can make a joint application for the Right to Buy scheme with:

    • Someone who shares your tenancy
    • Up to 3 family members who’ve lived with you for the last 12 months, regardless of whether they share your tenancy or not

    Having the option to purchase your home through the Right to Buy scheme may not become available to you until later in life or may not even have been the right time for you until then.

    Getting a Right to Buy mortgage if you are retired is possible for some however the term “retired” is very broad and perhaps does not describe an applicant’s full circumstances. Typically, an assumption of a person who is retired will be that of an applicant who is of a more mature age and this can be a factor that will mean certain lenders will not be able to assist. However, age is not a barrier to all lenders and much will simply come down to affordability as with an applicant of any age, meaning that for those that qualify a Right to Buy mortgage even if you are retired is very much a possibility.

    Being self-employed conjures up many concerns for those that it applies to when it comes to mortgages. Therefore, if you are in a position of being offered the opportunity to purchase your home under the Right to Buy scheme you would be forgiven if you too thought this may not be possible.

    The perceived difficulties for the self-employed when applying for a mortgage however are usually unfounded and most applicants will simply be assessed as any other.

    Affordability is critical however as lenders need to be happy that you can afford the amount you require. Knowing how each lender assesses a self-employed applicant’s income is important and will hopefully therefore stand you in good stead in being approved.

    Contact one of our specialist mortgage advisers today who will help you through the journey and assist you in obtaining you right to buy mortgage if you are self-employed.

    If you’re not eligible for Right to Buy, you may be able to use Right to Acquire instead.

    There are a few main differences between Right to Buy and Right to Acquire. These revolve around who’s eligible and the discount you can receive.

    Right to Buy is a scheme which allows council tenants, or housing association tenants who were council tenants, to buy their property with a discount.

    Right to Acquire is a scheme which allows housing association tenants, not council tenants, to buy their property with a discount. The amount of discount that you could receive through Right to Acquire will depend on where you live in the UK.

    A mortgage broker can help you with a variety of different mortgage needs; and this includes if you’re looking to buy your council house or a housing association property. It’s also worth noting that even if you have bad credit history, you may still be eligible for a Right to Buy mortgage.

    Important information