Right to Buy conveyancing.

How does the Right to Buy scheme work and am I eligible?

If you decide to exercise your right to buy your council property, you will need a solicitor to take care of the the conveyancing process. This article explains how the Right to Buy conveyancing process works.

What is Right to Buy?

The "Right to Buy" scheme is a UK government initiative that allows eligible council and housing association tenants to buy their rented home at a discounted price.

Introduced by the Conservative government in 1980, the scheme was conceived to enable council tenants to get a foot on the housing ladder.

Do I qualify for Right to Buy?

You could be eligible to buy your council home under the Right to Buy scheme if:

  • The property is your only or main home.
  • Your property is self-contained
  • You've had a public sector landlord (council, housing association or government department) for a minimum of 3 years (although this period does not have to be continuous).
  • You're a 'secure tenant' (you have the right to live at the property for the rest of your life).

Am I be eligible if my home is an ex-council home?

Maybe. If the council sold your home to another landlord then there may be a 'Preserved Right to Buy'. Under this legal right, if a property was transferred from a landlord whose tenants had the right to buy, the tenant will retain the right even if the new landlord's other tenants do not have this right.

What if I've lived in armed forces accommodation?

Any time spent living in armed forces accommodation will count towards the qualification period and the discount calculation.

I am a housing association tenant - can I use Right to Buy?

You may be able to buy your rented housing association property at a discounted rate under the "Right to Acquire" scheme.

Eligibility criteria are broadly similar to Right to Buy, However, the housing association property must have been built or bought by a housing association after 31 March 1997, or transferred from a local council to a housing association on or after this date. For further info, see: gov.uk.

What if I'm on benefits?

If you claim state benefits it does not affect your eligibility for Right to Buy. However, you will need to make sure you can afford any repayments on the property.

Can I make a joint application with another person?

Yes. You can make a joint application under the Right to Buy scheme with anyone who shares the tenancy with you. They don't have to be your spouse or civil partner

You can buy with up to 3 family members who have lived in the property for the 12 months leading up to the date you make the Right to Buy application. The family members do not need to be on the tenancy agreement but it must be their main home.

Legally, a Right to Buy purchase can be financed by anyone (for example a family member could help you out), however, legal ownership will only ever be in the names of eligible tenants and applicants.

You can confirm your eligibility to buy on the government's Own Your Home website.

How much discount can I get?

As of 6 April 2023, you could get a maximum discount of £96,000 or 70% - whichever is lower.

If the property is in a London borough, the maximum discount is increased to £127,900 or 70%.

This maximum discount is increased every year on 6 April, in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

How is the Right to Buy discount calculated?

The amount of discount you could receive will depend on:

  • The value of your property.
  • The length of time you have been a tenant with a public sector landlord. If you are making a joint application, discount is calculated on the longest-serving tenant.
  • Whether you are buying a flat or house

The following table illustrates how the maximum discount is calculated:

Years you have been a public sector tenantHousesFlats
3 to 5 years35%50%
5+ years35% plus 1% for every additional year you have been a tenant70% plus 1% for every additional year you have been a tenant

How will the property be valued?

The value of the property will be calculated based on its open market value at the time of purchase. The landlord will usually arrange for a valuer to visit your home and work out a valuation.

If you disagree with the landlord's valuation, you have the right to get an independent RICS property valuation, and your landlord will have to pay for this.

What happens if I subsequently sell my home?

You are perfectly entitled to sell your home whenever you want.

However, if you sell your home within 5 years of the date you purchased it through the Right to Buy scheme, you may have to have to pay back some or all of the discount, as follows:

Number of years the property is sold within:% of discount you will need to repay
> 50%


How do I start the Right to Buy process?

Application form

To get the ball rolling, you'll first need to contract your landlord and ask for a Right to Buy application form (Form RTB1). This form can also be downloaded from the gov.uk website. This form should be completed by you and any other tenants who wish to share the Right to Buy with you.

Landlord's response

Your landlord will then send you a notice (Form RTB2) confirming your Right to Buy within 4 weeks of the date they received your RTB1 form.

Section 125 notice

Once your landlord agrees to sell your home under the Right to Buy scheme, they are required to issue a separate offer notice, known as the Section 125 Notice. This document outlines the purchase price, along with the terms and conditions of sale. For house purchases, the notice must be sent within 8 weeks following your receipt of the RTB2 form. For flats or leasehold houses, the deadline is 12 weeks.

You can raise any questions you might have with the landlord after receipt of this notice.

Accept or challenge the valuation

If you are happy with your landlord's assessment of your property's value, you can accept their valuation. If you think their valuation is too high, you can ask them to arrange for a district vlauer to value the property.

Arrange your finances

Mortgages are readily available for properties bought through the Right to Buy Scheme. Most mortgage lenders will accept the discount as the mortgage deposit.

Arrange a survey

A home survey is a detailed examination of a property's condition, conducted by a qualified RICS home surveyor. Getting a survey will give you complete peace of mind about the property's structural condition. If it uncovers any problems, the survey could be used as the basis of a price negotiation with your landlord.

Instruct a solicitor

Once you have decided to buy your council home, you will need a solicitor to complete the legal part of the process for you.

What is the Right to Buy conveyancing process?

Your conveyancing solicitor will play a key role in guiding you through the legal complexities of purchasing your home from the council or housing association.

Initially, your solicitor will carry out a thorough review of the property's title and any associated legal documents. This includes checking the Section 125 Notice, which details the purchase price and terms of sale, to ensure the offer is in line with statutory requirements and represents a fair deal for you.

Your solicitor will then manage the entire purchase process, coordinating with the council, housing association, mortgage lender, and any other parties involved. They handle the submission of necessary legal paperwork, negotiate terms where applicable, and ensure your interests are protected throughout. This includes advising on and dealing with any restrictions or conditions imposed on the sale under the Right to Buy scheme, and advising you on the terms of your mortgage

Conveyancing searches will also be carried out to uncover any legal issues that could affect the property.

Finally, your solicitor will transfer funds and oversee the completion of the sale, ensuring you're registered at HM Land Registry as the new owner, and address any post-completion requirements, such as Stamp Duty submission .

Throughout the process, a conveyancing solicitor provides invaluable advice and support, helping to navigate the unique aspects of Right to Buy transactions and ensuring a smooth transition from tenant to homeowner.


Is any other support available?

There may also be other financial support available, such as Shared Ownership or the government's Mortgage Guarantee Scheme.

Should I buy through the Right to Buy scheme?

For many council tenants, Right to Buy offers a great opportunity to buy their home.

If you fit the criteria, investigate the financial options available to you and seriously consider putting in an application to buy your home. The scheme may ultimately be scrapped or suspended.

If you are unclear on any of the details of Right to Buy or are considering a joint application, it is advisable to get financial and legal advice on the process.

Why is Right to Buy controversial?

As far as the success of the scheme is concerned, there have been reservations over:

  • Council housing being sold off but not replaced, despite housing shortages
  • Many properties under Right to Buy ending up being sold on to private landlords, to be rented out at premium rates.

As such, Right to Buy is considered by some to be less successful than hoped at generating income for local authorities and providing long term affordable housing.

Right to Buy was been suspended in Scotland and Wales due to concerns over the availability of social housing. If you’re a council tenant in England, Right to Buy is still an option.

As a council tenant, however, Right to Buy controversies need not affect your decision to buy.

Article by Completely Moved authors

The Completely Moved team have years of experience helping home buyers, sellers and owners, answering questions and providing property advice.

Share this article:

Sale & Purchase Conveyancing

Know exactly how much you'll pay, with an all inclusive, no move, no fee solicitor quote.

Sale & Purchase Conveyancing

Know exactly how much you'll pay, with an all inclusive, no move, no fee solicitor quote.

Transfer of Equity Conveyancing

Gifting or selling your share in a property? Adding someone to the deeds? We can help.

Remortgage Conveyancing

Get a remortgage conveyancing quote - Expert solicitors approved by over 100 lenders

RICS Property Surveys

RICS Level 2 & 3 Home Surveys and valuations. Local surveyors. Fast turnaround. Low prices
Get a conveyancing quote