Right to Buy for Housing Association Tenants - Part 1

The current Right to Buy scheme has been successful in providing council house tenants with discounts, so that they can afford to buy their own property. Due to its success, a new scheme is being tried and tested to allow housing association tenants the right to buy too.

  Under current Right to Buy legislation, you do have the right to buy your council property but not if you’re a housing association tenant. That is, unless your property was previously owned by the council and transferred to the housing association or built by a housing association after March 1997, then you may have the right to Acquire.  

What’s the difference between council housing and housing association?

Collectively, they’re both part of ‘social housing’. Providing stable, affordable homes for those at the lower ends of the financial earnings hierarchy, social housing accounts for over 15% of all homes in the UK. The main difference being that council housing is usually part of a larger estate and owned outright by the local council. Whereas housing association property is typically of a smaller estate, or a single house on a street, which is not owned by the council but a non-for -profit organisation instead. Generally, people who acquire housing association property have applied for a council house but have not met the criteria. Due to rising rental costs, housing associations are in danger of not being able to cater for its tenants by providing affordable housing in admirable areas.  

Extending the Right to Buy

Extending the Right to Buy scheme to cater for all social housing means that housing association tenants will be able to benefit from the same discounts as those who currently qualify as council tenants. This should, in theory, level the playing field and get even more people onto the property ladder. In January 2016, five housing associations from a range of local authority areas were shortlisted by the government and formed the first pilot scheme. In order to be eligible you had to have lived in one of the five housing association areas as a public sector tenant for at least 10 years. A public sector tenant is someone who has lived in a property rented to you by a local authority or a registered social landlord. If this happened to be you, you could begin the application to buy your property at a subsidised rate.  

Voluntary Right to Buy Scheme

The Voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) scheme is only available in England and is the latest government funded initiative to test whether it’s a suitable enough scheme and whether or not it will be plausible in other areas and constituencies. It will also assess and test the collaborative efforts of the housing associations, the Government and Federation, as one collaborative entity.  

How does it work?

If you believe you qualify for the right to buy your own house, you need to complete an RTB1 form and send it to your landlord. If your landlord agrees to sell, they should provide you with details about the price, the discount, an up-to-date description of the property & land and some other estimations and insights about the property’s service value and structure etc. From here, you have a 12 week period to decide whether you want to accept your landlord's offer. If you’re unsure about the value of the initial offer, you must notify your landlord, in writing, and ask for an independent valuation. If all terms are agreed, your landlord must complete sections of your Right to Buy application within a four week time-frame. If this is not completed on time, you could be entitled to a reduction in the sale price via the ‘Initial notice of delay’ form (RTB6). If there is still no reply in a month, fill out an RTB8 form. This will ensure any rent you’ve had to pay out during this time-frame comes off the final sale price.  

To discover more information about Right to Buy mortgages, what to do if you choose to sell, or to discover if you have the right to acquire, hold on for part 2 (coming soon). Alternately, contact us today!

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