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Right to Buy

What is the Right to Buy?

The Right to Buy gives secure tenants of Medway Council (and other social landlords) the legal ability to buy their home directly from their landlord and at a lower price than its current market value.

The Right to Buy is defined in legislation, particularly the Housing Act 1985, which sets out who can buy their council home and the process involved.

It is important to make a distinction between buying a house and a flat or maisonette from the council. If you are buying a house, you will be buying the property freehold or outright. If you are buying a flat or maisonette, however, you will be buying a long-term lease and the council will still own the freehold of the building.

Who has the Right to Buy?

To be eligible to buy your home from the council:

  • You must be a secure tenant of Medway Council
  • You must you must have spent at least five years as a public sector tenant (a public sector tenant is a tenant whose landlord is either a local authority or registered social landlord)
  • The house or flat you plan to buy must be your only or principal home and is self contained

You may be able to exercise the Right to Buy with someone who is a joint tenant with you or with members of your family (they must be over the age of 18 years and have lived with you for a minimum of 12 months).

Exceptions to the Right to Buy

You cannot buy your home if:

  • A court has made a possession order which says that you must leave your home
  • You are an non discharged bankrupt
  • You have a bankruptcy petition pending against you
  • Your home is particularly suitable for occupation by the elderly (Under paragraph 11 of Schedule 5 to the Housing Act 1985 )
  • Taking into account its location, size, design, heating system and other features
  • Was let to the current or previous tenant for occupation by a person aged 60 or over
  • Whether they were the tenant or not was first let before 1 January 1990.

The Right to Buy discount

As a qualifying Right to Buy tenant, you will receive a discount on the market value of your home. The amount of discount is linked to the number of years you have spent as a secure tenant: the longer you have been a tenant, the greater your discount will be. Under law, this discount is set to an upper limit (dependant on where you live).

Discount examples

For Medway Council tenants living in the south-east, the maximum discount available is £77,000.

Please note, you may have to repay part or all of your discount if you resell your property within the first five years of ownership (for purchases after 18 January 2005).

The Right to Buy process

The following is a summary of the Right to Buy process.

Council tenant submits a Right to Buy application form (Form RTB1) (pdf 432KB) to their landlord.

Your landlord must tell you within four weeks of receipt of application if you have the Right to Buy your home and send you a notice (Form RTB2).

To use the above pdf file you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it on your computer, please use the advice page.

What happens if I have been granted permission to buy?

Once you have been given the Right to Buy your home, your property will be valued by an independent Estate Agent and you will then receive your offer letter from your landlord (Section 125 notice). This offer letter tells you how much your landlord is prepared to sell you your home for and the terms and conditions of sale. The offer letter must reach you within eight weeks of your receiving your RTB2 form, if your property is a house and 12 weeks for a flat or maisonette.

As part of the Right to Buy process, you will be provided with an Energy Performance Certificate – a document which tells you how energy efficient and environmentally-friendly your home is.

To buy or not to buy?

You now have to decide whether to complete the purchase of your home and you must tell your landlord of your decision, in writing, within 12 weeks of receiving your Section 125 notice.

If you wish to complete your Right to Buy, your purchase should be handled for you by your solicitor and your landlord’s legal representative.

Once a tenant claims the Right to Buy, Medway Council removes their home from any improvement programmes and the only work undertaken will be those needed:

  • To keep the property wind and water-tight
  • To address health and safety issues
  • To comply with Right to Repair regulations.

The cost of buying your council home

If you decide to buy your council home, there may be additional costs to the purchase price for the following:

  • Maintenance costs to ensure your home is in good repair
  • Running costs, such as utilities and Council Tax
  • You may have to pay stamp duty, which is a tax that people pay when they buy property (Stamp duty is worked out as a percentage of the price you pay for property)
  • You will need a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to look after the legal side of buying your home (before employing anyone, always ask how much their advice will cost)
  • You should have a survey of your home carried out (a Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Home Buyers’ Survey and Valuation is a report and valuation in a standardised format to tell you of all significant defects and is likely to be adequate for most properties and provides a guide to value)
  • A building survey involves a detailed examination of all the visible parts of the property (it is a good idea to have such a survey done if the property is old or obviously in need of repair of if you are considering making alterations and your lender may be able to arrange for its valuer to carry out the survey, which could save you paying for a separate valuation)
  • If you take out a mortgage loan, you may have to pay for the cost of arranging it and will also have to pay a valuation fee (please note that as a tenant you may be able to claim housing benefit to help with your rent, however housing benefit will not help with mortgage costs)
  • When a sale is completed, you must pay the Land Registry to register you as the new owner.

There may be additional costs, terms and conditions relating to your mortgage and you should ask your mortgage provider about these.

What are the differences between buying a house, flat or maisonette (leasehold)?

If you buy a house, you will purchase the freehold and will own the property outright. If you buy a flat or maisonette, you will usually purchase a long lease. This allows you and your successors to live in it for a fixed time, usually 125 years. The landlord will still own the block, and they will be responsible for the structural upkeep of the building as a whole and of any communal areas and facilities.

As a leaseholder, you only have to pay the landlord a nominal rent (known as a ‘ground rent’) of £10 a year. But you and other leaseholders will also have to pay service charges. These can be perhaps several hundred pounds each year, or much more if the block needs major repairs or maintenance, such as a new roof or new windows, and improvements.

Selling your home

Leaseholders can sell their properties at any point during the lifetime of the lease. If a sale occurs within the first five years of ownership, you have to repay part or all of the discount. The person who buys it pays to take over the remainder of the lease.

If you decide to sell your property within ten years of buying it through the right to buy scheme, you must offer it to the council first before putting the property on the open market, giving us first right of refusal.

Visit our leaseholder pages for more information. 

Where to go for further information

For further information on purchasing your council home, please contact the council's Home Ownership Officer using the following contact details.

Phone: 01634 333219

Email: leaseholders@medway.gov.uk

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