Tenants in England have had the ability to buy their council houses since the 1980s. When you have lived in a place for a long time, it can be an advantage to own the property outright; either as an asset for your children or simply because you know rent will not then be due when you retire. Knowing how to buy your council house under the Right to Buy scheme is then an advantage.
Determine your eligibility for the Right to Buy scheme. To be able to buy your council house under Right to Buy, you must have been a council tenant for at least the last twelve months; and also a “public sector tenant” for at least five years in total, although these do not have to be consecutive years. Public sector tenants are people living in council or housing association properties or properties belonging to other public bodies.
Visit the DirectGov website and download form RTB1. Complete the form, providing the address of the property you wish to purchase and the name of its landlord (which may be your local council or housing association for Protected Right to Buy properties). You will also need to provide details of each tenant in the property, and any other people who will be exercising their Right to Buy on the property with you.
Post the RTB1 form to your landlord. They have four weeks in which to reply to your claim; either by accepting or denying it. If they turn down your claim, they must provide a reason for doing so (such as the property being suitable for housing the elderly and infirm). Where the landlord accepts your application, they will provide terms of sale; including their proposed price. You are free to accept or reject these.
Before submitting the RTB1 form to your landlord, calculate your monthly income then deduct your monthly costs (such as food and water bills) without taking into account your current rent. This will tell you how much you have coming in each month to pay a mortgage and other bills such as council tax. You will need to know this information if you intend to buy your council house on a mortgage.
The Right to Buy scheme only operates in England. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish councils operate similar schemes but the forms and procedures are different to those in England. For more information on how to buy your council house outside of England, including the forms you will need to complete, you will need to contact your council.