If you’ve made the decision to exercise your right to buy your council house, and you’ve made the local authority an offer, you need to appoint a solicitor.
Buying your council house from the local authority is different from buying a house privately – so you need a specialist right to buy lawyer.
Our conveyancing lawyers have the right to buy expertise you need for both council house sales locally in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset and throughout England – from our offices in Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Andover and Amesbury.
So why not give us a ring now either on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or on one of our local office numbers [see below] for FREE initial phone advice and an instant no obligation fee quote.
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Buying your Council house or Flat
There are both restrictions and advantages in buying your council property.
The best news is the substantial discount you get when buying your home. As at March 2023, the maximum discount is £87,200 across England, (except in London where it is a huge £116,200). And that maximum discount goes up every April in line with inflation.
This discount varies on 3 factors:
- the value of your property
- how long you have been a local authority tenant
- whether you’re buying a flat or house
Please note that these rules apply to buying a council house in England only. There are different rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In particular, the Right to Buy ended in Wales on 26 January 2019.
Restrictions on sale
Remember, if you sell your property within 10 years of purchasing it using the Right to Buy scheme, you have to offer to sell it first to either the council you bought it from, or to another social landlord in the area at the full market price. However, you can sell the property to anyone if that council or social landlord doesn’t agree to a purchase in 8 weeks.
And don’t forget that you are going to have to pay back some or all of the discount you received if you sell your Right to Buy home in the 5 years after it was sold to you.
Tips on Buying Ex-Council Houses
The sale of ex-council properties can prove awkward, particularly in the current financial climate. Most people buying their home under the government’s Right to Buy Scheme are usually first time buyers with no experience of home purchase.
When it comes to the sale and purchase of properties purchased from a Local Authority, there are some things you need to be aware of:
- Ex-council flats and houses usually fetch a lower price than privately built homes when being sold on for the first or second time.Depending on the type, condition and location of the council property, it is common for ex-council property to be worth between 15% and 40% less than similar privately built properties.When it comes to selling, just like any other property, you need a good valuation. Make sure that you appoint an estate agent who is used to dealing with local ex-council. Putting a value on such homes, especially in an area where most council properties have not been sold, can prove awkward, there will only have been a limited market for such property and few, if any, similar properties to compare yours with. Valuation is made more complicated by both improvements made to ex-council properties and the scope for such improvements to be carried out in future.
- Most purchasers of ex-council properties are first time buyers and so are often families with tight budgets and limited funds to purchase a home.
- To get the best value for ex-council properties, avoid pushing for a quick sale. As these properties are generally less popular than privately built properties, and with likely purchasers on limited budgets, pushing for an early sale is likely to reduce the potential sale price.
- In getting a value for your property, make sure that you speak to at least 2 or 3 estate agents. Beware automatically taking the agent who gives the highest valuation. It is not uncommon for some agents to over-value property purely to get the instruction – that’s the easy part; they may find difficulties when trying to sell at that price.
- Do make sure that you tell your agent how quickly you want to sell. The fact that a property needs to be sold quickly will inevitably reduce its potential sale value.
- Sometimes ex-local authority properties can prove great bargains. Not only are they usually cheaper to buy than privately built houses, but there are often more spacious and better built – and often in desirable city locations
What is the Preserved Right to Buy
This refers to the situation where your home used to be owned by the local council, but has since been sold on to another landlord (often a Housing Association). If you were living in the house when it was transferred over, you may still have the Right to Buy – the ‘Preserved Right to Buy.
Can I make an application to buy my council house with someone else?
Yes, a joint application possible with the following people:
- someone who currently shares your council tenancy OR
- up to 3 family members who have lived with you for the past year (whether or not they share your tenancy)
Am I eligible for Right to Buy if I already part own my house with the council?
No – the Right to Buy is unavailable to anyone who part owns their home already.
Can I use my discount as the deposit?
That depends entirely on the lenders you are borrowing from. Some mortgage companies are happy with this – others are not. A mortgage broker or an Independent Financial Adviser can help you find the right mortgage. Let us know if you want our right to buy conveyancing solicitors to recommend someone to help you find the right mortgage.
The lease on my Ex-Council Flat is running low – can I extend it?
Yes, when you have owned your flat for a minimum of two years (and provided the lease was originally granted for a term of at least 21 years) you have a legal right to extend your lease by a further 90 years – although you will need to pay to do so.
Our 5 strong leasehold team is perhaps the largest and most specialist team of its type in the country – and we readily handle lease extensions on ex-council flats, both for individual leaseholders and for councils themselves.
Click here to read more about Extending The Lease On An Ex-Council Flat