At Mortgage360, we’ve been helping people secure Right to Buy mortgages for many years, supporting families realising their dreams of home ownership.
What is the Right To Buy scheme?
The Housing Act 1980 contained legislation which was designed to help council tenants living in houses owned and managed by local authorities to buy their homes, at a discounted purchase price.
Over the years, this legislation has helped many thousands of people to get onto the property ladder.
If you are a tenant in a public sector property in England, subject to certain conditions, you have the right to buy your council home at a more affordable price than on the open market, from developers or private vendors.
There are similar schemes available for public sector tenants in Wales and Northern Ireland. The conditions and regulations differ slightly from country to country.
A Right to Buy mortgage works just like a standard mortgage, but it is important to ensure you are eligible under the right to buy regulations before you begin the process of securing your mortgage. But if you’ve been a secure tenant in your council or housing association-owned home for a number of years and would like to be the homeowner, then the Right to Buy scheme will work in your favour.
So is home ownership right for you? It will certainly offer you improved financial security, but you need to make sure you can afford the monthly repayments on your Right to Buy mortgage. At Mortgage360, our friendly and knowledgeable mortgage brokers will help to secure your Right to Buy mortgage and guide you in your first step onto the property ladder.
Do I need a deposit for a Right to Buy mortgage?
For most people, one of the key advantages of Right to Buy mortgages is that you usually don’t need to find a deposit. Your Right to Buy discount is accepted by most mortgage lenders in lieu of a deposit because the property is worth more than the loan that they are advancing.
Not all mortgage lenders take this view, however, and some will require a cash deposit. You’ll need to have some savings because you’ll still need to cover the cost of any arrangement fees, as well as legal and survey costs.
Enlisting the help of a mortgage broker with experience in Right to Buy mortgages will smooth the process and ensure you are aware of all the additional expenses which will arise during the course of your Right to Buy journey.
How much is the Right to Buy discount?
If you are eligible for the Right to Buy scheme, then this first step is to request a valuation on your home. The Right to Buy discount you are entitled to will be based on that valuation.
A number of different variables can affect your Right to Buy discount, including the type of property you live in – is it a house or a flat? The length of time you have held your tenancy is also a factor, and where you live in the country can also play a part in defining this.
The government’s Right to Buy discount calculator can help.
As a guideline, if you live in a house, after three years as a tenant you are eligible for a 35% discount. Each additional year as a tenant qualifies you for a further 1% discount, and the maximum allowable discount is 70%.
If your property is a flat, after three years as a tenant you are eligible for a 50% discount. After five years as a tenant, each additional year qualifies you for a further 2% discount, and again the maximum allowable discount is 70%.
There are other factors that can affect your Right to Buy discount. If any of the applicants have already benefited from a Right to Buy discount, then this is deducted from the discount applicable in this instance.
There is also the ‘cost floor rule’ which means that if your social landlord has built the property recently, or has spent a significant amount on repairs and maintenance, the discount will be reduced or even not applied at all, dependent upon the assessed value of the property.
No longer a council tenant? If you live in a property once owned by the council but sold to another organisation, such as a housing association, you may still have a right to buy the home under the Preserved Right to Buy’ regulations.
How long will I have to live in my council property before I can buy it?
That depends on whether your property is a house or a flat. If it’s a house, then you need to have been the tenant for a minimum of five years. If it’s a flat, you can qualify for Right to Buy after three years.
Am I eligible for the Right to Buy Scheme?
There are a number of conditions you have to meet here.
- Your property must be your main or only residence
- It must be self-contained, so any property-sharing facilities with other households will not qualify
- You must have a legal contract with your landlord
- You must have been renting the property from a public sector landlord for at least three years, although these do not necessarily need to be consecutive
If you qualify for the Right to Buy scheme, you can apply for a Right to Buy mortgage. Remember that you will also need to meet the mortgage lender’s eligibility requirements too!
How do I apply for Right To Buy Scheme?
Don’t be put off by the paperwork, it’s a straightforward and documented process.
- Fill in an RTB1 form
- Send this to your public-sector landlord
- They must respond to your request within four weeks (or eight weeks if you have been a tenant for less than three years)
- If they refuse, they must explain exactly why
- If they accept, they will send an offer within eight weeks for freehold properties, or twelve weeks for leasehold properties
- This offer will detail the valuation of the property, your Right to Buy discount, your purchase price, a detailed description of the property and any land associated with it, advice on any existing structural issues also, if the property is a flat, the service charges associated with ownership
- You then have twelve weeks to make a decision, based upon this information. If you think the valuation is too high, you can request a separate assessment from a RICS independent valuer
- After this, specific timeframes apply for landlords to complete subsequent stages of the process.
If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal. You then need to consider your Right to Buy mortgage!
Can I make a joint application?
Absolutely – this can be your spouse or civil partner, or a joint tenant. Your Right to Buy can also be shared with up to three other family members, but they must have lived at the property within the past twelve months.
Selling your Right to Buy property
If you want to sell your Right to Buy property within five years of purchase, you will be required to pay back some or even all of the discount you qualified for.
Additionally, if you sell within ten years, you must give first refusal to your previous landlord (or another social landlord), who has the right to buy it back at the market price. If they refuse, you can then put it on the open market.
So it’s important to really think about how long you want to stay in your home before considering Right to Buy, or if you’re considering the purchase to sell on and release equity. How quickly you can do this, and how much you will benefit, will be governed by these regulations.
Why do I need a specialist Right to Buy mortgage broker?
The Right to Buy scheme has played an important role in helping many people to buy their own homes. At Mortgage360, we have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through the process, helping with your Right to Buy mortgage application and ensuring you get the right mortgage deals to match your needs. If you’re considering exercising your Right to Buy, call Mortgage360 for an informal chat.