Understanding Your Right to Buy Guide

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Who can apply for the Right to Buy scheme?

To apply for Right to Buy, you have to meet certain criteria. Typically, you can apply if you live in a council house as a tenant and the following statements are true.

  • The property is your main home.
  • The property is self-contained.
  • You’re a secure tenant.
  • You have or have had a public sector landlord for 3 years – not necessarily consecutively.

Can you apply for Right to Buy with shared tenancy?

Right to Buy doesn’t have to be used alone. It’s possible to make a joint application with one of the following people:

  • Your spouse or civil partner.
  • The person who shares your tenancy.
  • Up to 3 family members who you’ve lived with for at least 12 months – they don’t have to share the tenancy, but it does have to be their main home.

Can I apply for Right to Buy on an ex-council house?

If you were living in a council house and it was sold to another landlord like a housing association, it can have what is known as ‘Preserved Right to Buy’. That means you can still buy the property at a discounted rate. To find out if this applies to you, the best thing to do is talk to your current landlord.

What is Right to Acquire?

Right to Acquire is a similar scheme that is available to those who don’t have Preserved Right to Buy. Though the discount is smaller, this scheme also enables tenants to purchase their homes at a decreased price. You can apply to buy your home if you’ve had a public sector landlord for three years. Examples of public sector landlords include:

  • Housing associations.
  • Councils.
  • The armed services.
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts.

Who is ineligible for Right to Acquire?

In certain circumstances, Right to Acquire might not be right for you. You would typically be considered ineligible if:

  • You’re bankrupt.
  • You’ve been ordered to vacate your home by a court.
  • You’re a current council tenant – here, Right to Buy is more suitable.
  • You have Preserved Right to Buy.

Right to Buy discounts.

So, we know what Right to Buy is, but most importantly, what’s the discount? If you qualify for the scheme, you will receive a discount on the purchase price of your property determined by how long you’ve been a public sector tenant, the type of property you’re buying (e.g., flat or house), and the market value. It’s important to note:

  • In England, the maximum discount currently stands at £87,200.
  • In London, this increases to £116,200.
  • The maximum will increase every year in April in line with inflation.

If you’re purchasing with another person, the discount will be calculated based on the person who has been a public sector tenant the longest. You might also:

  • Have to repay some or all of the discount if you sell the property within 5 years.
  • Get a smaller discount if you have used Right to Buy before.

Calculating your Right to Buy discount.

Below, we outline the different discounts available depending on whether the property in question is a house or a flat.


  • 35% discount on the market value of the property for people who have been public sector tenants for between 3-5 years.
  • An increase of 1% for every additional year.
  • A maximum discount of 70% or £87,200 in England and £116,200 in London depending on which is lower.


  • A 50% discount for people who have been public sector tenants for between 3-5 years.
  • An increase of 2% for every additional year.
  • A maximum discount of 70% or £87,200 in England and £116,200 in London depending on which is lower.

What can affect my Right to Buy discount?

Sometimes, certain circumstances can mean your Right to Buy discount is reduced. This is likely to be true if:

  • Your landlord has spent money maintaining and improving the property.
  • You have previously purchased a property through the Right to Buy scheme.
  • You have made improvements to the property.

Thinking about Right to Buy? Talk to a professional mortgage advisor!

If you’re considering applying for Right to Buy, our specialist mortgage advisors are here to help. We can explain all the ins and outs of the process, as well as the costs involved in purchasing and owning a home. We’ll also take you through the mortgage process and explain how much you might be able to borrow.

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Emma Jones
Emma Jones
Emma began her career in Lloyds Banking Group, first in the unsecured & secured loans department at Halifax and later as a mortgage advisor at Lloyds. During 9 years in these roles and a further 2 years at Yorkshire Building Society, Emma was able to observe the impact of the recession, and how the banks let their customers down by denying loans and mortgages. Wanting to be a driving force for change, she stepped into a market advice role where she has been able to help clients when others couldn’t. Identifying a gap in the mortgage space, Emma went on to establish When the Bank Says No. As a keen property investor, she has been the focus of features in publications including The Sunday Times and This is Money. Emma’s greatest joy is overcoming the low expectations of their customers, many of whom have all but given up on getting a mortgage due. One thing Emma has learned through her own personal struggles is every client must be treated like a human and understood better by advisors and lenders in the industry. “We all have to navigate life events which can ultimately impact your financial status. It shouldn’t mean dreams of homeownership or business growth should have the breaks applied”. Emma and her team’s passion for helping people overcome the challenges they may face when applying for a mortgage have fuelled the success of When the Bank Says No.