Buying your council house

The Right to Buy scheme was first introduced in 1980. The scheme allows secure tenants to buy the homes they rent from their local authority landlord at a discount.

You can find out: 

  • the rules of the Right to Buy Scheme
  • what to do if you want to buy your home through Right to Buy
  • the costs involved when buying your home and the ongoing costs of owning your own home

If you want more information, there's a more detailed guide available on GOV.UK: Your right to buy your home

Who has the Right to Buy?

  • Any ‘secure’ tenant with public sector tenancies that total a minimum of three years
  • The council property must be your only or principal home
  • You must not be bankrupt or about to become bankrupt or have made any arrangement with your creditors (people you owe money to) to pay off your debts

You may be able to buy your home along with a family member. The family member needs to have lived with you at your property for at least the last 12 months.

In the following circumstances you may still have the right to buy, but it will be stopped if:

  • There is an initial demolition order in force on your home
  • Action is being taken against you to combat anti-social behaviour

You do not have the Right to Buy if:

  • You are an introductory tenant
  • We have a possession order against you
  • You’re an undischarged bankrupt or have a bankruptcy petition pending
  • You have made an arrangement with creditors (and you still owe them money)

Properties exempt from Right to Buy

There are certain types of properties that are exempt from the Right to Buy scheme even if you are a secure tenant. These include:

  • Sheltered housing (this usually means a flat or bungalow complex with warden & community centre available to you)
  • Bungalows & ground floor flats (suitable for elderly persons)
  • Homes that have been specifically built and designed for people with a disability
  • Homes of public sector employees that have been provided by their employers to make sure they’re near to their work to carry out their job e.g. sheltered housing wardens
  • Homes due to be demolished (and subject to a final demolition notice)

What discount can I get? 

The Right to Buy scheme gives you a discount on the market value of your home. The longer you've been a tenant, the more discount you get (but only up to a maximum of £84,600). This amount may change every year on 6 April in line with the consumer price index (CPI).

If you’ve been a tenant in other properties, this can count towards your discount. These tenancies will only apply if your landlord at the time was either a Right to Buy landlord or another public sector body. A full list of these landlords can be found in the guide, 'your right to buy your home.

The rate of discount

Flats

After 3-5 years you will qualify to receive a 50% discount. This will increase by 2% for every extra full year up to 70% (15+years).

Houses

After 3-5 years you will qualify to receive a 35% discount. This will increase by 1% for every extra year up to 70% (40+years)

Here are some examples of prices payable:

House valuation = £85,000.00

Qualifying years for discount 3-5 = 35% = £29,750.00

Valuation price less discount = offer price £55,250.00                                                                     

House valuation = £250,000.00

Qualifying years for discount 3-5 = 35% = £87,500.00

However maximum discount allowable = £84,600.00

Valuation price less maximum allowable discount = offer price £165,400.00

Flat valuation = £60,000.00

Qualifying years for discount 15+ years = 70% = £42,000.00

Valuation price less discount = offer price £18,000.00

If major repair or improvement works have been carried out to your home, these will be considered as part of the valuation. We cannot sell a property below the amount that has been spent in carrying out repairs during the ten years prior to the Right to Buy or 15 years for a new build property being submitted. This is known as the “cost floor”.

Example

Offer price after discount £30,000

Cost floor (improvement works) £35,000

Offer price £35,000

Applying for the Right to Buy

You can get a Right to Buy application pack by using our online form below.  Once completed you should return the form to the Right to Buy Team, Barnsley Council, PO Box 634, Barnsley S70 9GG.

Within four weeks, you will receive a form RTB2 which will tell you whether or not you have the Right to Buy.  For flats you will receive a form RTB2 within eight weeks.

Please note that as soon as we receive your application form we will suspend all non-statutory repair and improvement works. We will also suspend any application to transfer to another property.

What if my Right to Buy is not accepted?

Should the Right to Buy be denied on the grounds that the property is suitable for older persons (i.e. bungalows/ground floor flats), you can appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal. Information on how to appeal will be supplied to you with the RTB2 form.

Where a Right to Buy is denied under any other grounds, you may wish to get advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If your Right to Buy is accepted

Your details are sent to our designated valuation service, who will make arrangements to visit and value your home. The valuation is based on what your home would be worth on the open market at the time you submitted your Right to Buy application but disregards any improvements carried out by yourselves.

Once we receive the valuation, an offer notice (S125) will be sent to you within eight weeks of the issuing of the RTB2 form (if your home is a house or bungalow) or 12 weeks (if your home is a flat). This will give details of the price you will be required to pay to buy the property.

Every effort is made to keep to these time limits. If we fail to do so; you can complete a “Notice of Delay” form. Details on how to do this can be found in the booklet 'your right to buy your home'. Please note that delays do not entitle you to withhold rent, or to refuse to comply with any other obligation of your tenancy agreement.

If you feel that the valuation is too high, you can appeal to the District Valuer. Details can be found in the guide Your Right to Buy Your Home.

You need to let us know whether or not you wish to buy at the price offered within three months of receiving the offer notice. If you do not contact us within this three-month period, we will send you a reminder letter giving you a further 28 days for you to respond. If no action is taken by you by the end of this period, the Right to Buy application will be cancelled.

What happens when I accept the offer?

Once you have accepted the offer, all documents are sent to our legal section, who will contact your solicitor to arrange the preparation of documents and plans for the completion of the purchase.

If you accept the offer but then we do not hear from you for a long time, our legal section can serve you with a Notice to Complete. If you don't reply to this notice within the set timescales the Right to Buy will be cancelled. Further details can be found in the guide 'your right to buy your home.

Leasehold or freehold?

The freehold to a property is sold when you buy a house or bungalow.

When buying a flat you purchase a lease for 125 years and you become a leaseholder to us. The block of flats remains the property of Barnsley Council and we are responsible for any repair and maintenance works to the common parts, structure and exterior of the building. You will be re-charged a proportion of the cost of these works through a service charge, which will be billed annually. You should also be aware that each year you may have to pay for other items within your service charges such as:

  • communal tv aerial (if applicable)
  • communal cleaning (if provided)
  • district heating system (if provided)
  • administration/ management charges
  • building insurance

You must always remember that if you wish to carry out any alterations to your home you will still need approval from us as well as any planning and building regulation consents.

Restrictions on the use of your property, together with your duties as a homeowner, will be detailed in the conveyance document - called a lease for leasehold properties (this is the legally binding document transferring ownership of the property from us to you). You should ensure that your solicitor or legal adviser draws your attention to those clauses within the conveyance; which cover your duties and obligations as a homeowner as once you sign this and complete the purchase, you are bound by these terms.  

Initial expenses – ‘one off costs’

  • Stamp duty – may apply depending on the property valuation.
  • Mortgage fees – charged by the mortgage company for arranging the mortgage and any survey carried out.
  • Solicitors fees- you are recommended to have a solicitor to deal with the sale of your property and they must tell you how much it will cost.
  • If you do not use a solicitor your mortgage company may instruct its own solicitor, and there will be a charge for this service.
  • Structural survey fee. A structural survey may cost you between £250 and £600 depending on how detailed the survey requested is.

You are strongly recommended to have a full structural survey undertaken by an independent surveyor who will identify any problems with the property. Although the Right to Buy valuation highlights certain structural defects, it will not be as full or as detailed as your own survey and might not reveal all the problems with the structure of your home. If you think that you may want your own survey, you should discuss this with your solicitor or mortgage advisor.

Continuing costs of home ownership

Household expenses – when working out whether or not you are able to afford to buy your home remember you will still be responsible for the payment of water, electricity, gas and council tax and these costs should be included in your calculations.  If you are a leaseholder, you will also be responsible for paying the service charge towards any repairs and maintenance that the landlord will carry out.  This amount will vary each year and you must make sure you have the money to pay for this charge. 

For your own health and safety, you should make sure that your gas/solid fuel fires, heating and water boilers are serviced at least once a year.

You must also bear in mind that you will become responsible for any repairs/maintenance and improvement works to your home, and care should be taken to find a reliable and competent tradesperson who provide a good quality service at reasonable prices.

Every now and again we will need to carry out major works to our blocks of flats (e.g. new roof).  If you own a property within one of these blocks you will be charged a proportion for carrying out the works.  We will consult with you first on any individual works that will cost you over £250 and you will be invited to make observations, but you will still be responsible for paying for the works once they have been carried out.

Things to think about include:

  • could you afford to replace your heating system or bathroom and kitchen if this were necessary.
  • who would you contact in the event of an urgent repair situation?

Insurance – you will need to take out buildings insurance and you should also consider taking out contents insurance to protect your things against theft and other risks (leaseholders are also advised to take out a “part buildings” insurance as well as contents insurance in order to cover certain items such as bathroom fittings).

If, as a tenant, you took out contents insurance with us, please note on completion of sale this will be terminated. You will, therefore, need to obtain your own contents insurance cover.

Mortgage payments- It's more than likely that you will be taking out a mortgage in order to buy your home. This is a significant long-term financial commitment. It's also recommended that you think about taking out appropriate life insurance and possibly mortgage protection insurance in case you cannot work through illness and cannot afford to meet the mortgage payments. Sometimes mortgage protection cover is a condition of your mortgage.

You must also remember that, even if you take out a mortgage at a low interest rate, it could go up in the future and this would increase the amount of your mortgage payments.

Please note that some lenders charge fees for arranging your mortgage and again for paying it off. You therefore need to think carefully about such fees before swapping to another lender as this could increase your level of borrowing.

If your salary goes down or you lose your job, as a tenant, you may get some housing benefit to help cover your rent payments immediately. But home owners cannot claim housing benefit to cover mortgage payments. You may be able to get help through the Support of Mortgage Interest (SMI) system to help you meet your mortgage interest payments, but generally this will only be available after three months.

Remember if you fail to keep up with the payments on your mortgage, your home could be re-possessed by the mortgage company, leaving you homeless.

Help with buying your home

Beware of companies claiming to help you buy your home, and never sign any documents without getting independent advice. If you think that you may be able to afford to buy your home free advice is available at:

Our Right to Buy Team can give you information on the Right to Buy and the application forms you need free of charge. To contact them you can ring on 01226 775555 or use our 'contact us online' form or write to Right to Buy Section, Barnsley Council, PO Box 634, Barnsley, S70 9GG.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide independent money advice and advocacy services including advice on mortgages and managing household costs, you can visit their website at advice guide.

The Money Advice Service can provide free, impartial advice about money, buying a home and taking out a mortgage. You can call them on 0300 500 5000 or visit their website at money advice service.

Selling or transferring your home

If you intend to sell your home within the first 10 years of purchasing under the Right to Buy Scheme, it will first need to be offered back to us under the Right of First Refusal. If you sell or transfer your home within the first 5 years of ownership, you will need to repay some or all of the discount you received. The amount you repay will depend on:

  • the price you sell at
  • the level of discount you received
  • how long you have owned your home for

If we cannot agree on the market value, the District Valuer will determine the price.