Right to Buy Article

There’s no doubt making that first step onto the housing ladder is expensive. We’ve all heard smug economists telling us that ‘renting is a mug’s game’, and that ‘it’s wasted money’, or is it? With some of the upcoming changes to Right to Buy and Right to Acquire, all those years of renting might not have been money thrown down the drain.

At the last election the government made ‘Right to Buy 2’ a manifesto promise. This has caused a great deal of hype, but no one is entirely clear on the details. In short, Housing Association tenants are going to be awarded a Right to Buy level of discount, even where it’s never been a Local Council property and always been a Housing Association property.

Given how recent the changes are, at present this is only being trialled by five housing associations across the UK. The idea being that if the trial is successful, other housing associations will adopt the Right to Buy 2, also known as voluntary Right to Buy. In order to qualify for voluntary Right to Buy you will have to have been a Housing Association or Local Council tenant for ten years, or live in a certain London borough, or be a tenant of one of the five Housing Association’s trialling the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme. At present this doesn’t include most Ealing tenants, but this is only the trial stage and could be widened very soon.

Previously, during the mid 1980s the Government rolled out the Right to Buy programme. Subject to certain criteria, this essentially meant if you’d been a Local Council tenant for a number of years, you could apply to buy your home – and were entitled to a discount on it because you’d been renting for so long. You might think the discount is tiny – but at present, the maximum RTB discount is £103,900 off your purchase price!

As you can imagine, this was extremely popular and so in the late 80s this was then extended to Right to Acquire. This meant Housing Association tenants could also apply to purchase their properties. However, the discount wasn’t as generous as it was previously under Right to Buy. The maximum discount was a % of the property’s value and the scheme wasn’t quite as common.

Housing Associations also started acquiring a lot of former Local Council properties which confused the situation slightly, as this in turn gave rise to the ‘preserved Right to Buy’.

Where even though the landlord is now a Housing Association, and not the Local Council, as a tenant your Right to Buy at the higher discount rate is preserved. If you believe you may have a preserved Right to Buy then it’s important for you to get in touch with a solicitor who specialises in affordable home ownership – there are certain criteria but you may be eligible.

If you’re uncertain if you qualify or not, the Government’s website has a quiz at www.righttobuy.gov.uk, or alternatively, speak to a solicitor specialising in affordable housing for further information.

Alasdair_MuirIf you have any queries concerning the matters raised please contact
Alasdair Muir, Affordable Home Ownership Team on
020 8567 3477 or e-mail amuir@prince-evans.co.uk