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Right to Buy

Right to Buy (RTB) is a government scheme that gives qualifying council tenants a chance to buy their homes. Most applicants will qualify for a discount of the full market valuation of your property if they've been a secure council tenant for at least 3 years. 

Find more information on RTB below:

Who is eligible

Before applying for the Right to Buy scheme, you should check to see if you qualify (eligibility applies to both you and your property)

 To qualify:

  • you must be a secure tenant in the property you wish to buy
  • you must have spent at least three years as a public sector tenant
  • the property must be your only or main home
  • you must not have breached your tenancy agreement obligations or have a suspended possession order against you as the tenant
  • we must not have served you with a demolition notice because your property is due to be demolished which suspends your right to buy
  • where the tenancy is in joint names, both tenants must be named and sign the application form regardless of whether they wish to join in the purchase or not
    • when the right to buy is completed and if you have not joined the purchase, your tenancy will end and you will lose ALL rights to the property; you should seek legal advice

Certain family members have the right to join an application to buy the property, even if they are not tenants but they must meet all three of the requirements below:

  • all applicants must either be the spouse or civil partner of the tenant; or the tenant and that person must live together as if they were husband and wife or civil partners, or the tenant’s parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece
  • all applicants must live at the property as their only or principal home
  • all applicants must provide proof that each individual has been living at the property for 12 months before the date of the application; so if you apply on 1 April 2022, you must provide proof you have lived there since 1 April 2021

We have a legal duty to protect public funds so we check every application and all the documentation of each applicant to ensure the application is genuine. This means any information you provide as part of your application may be shared with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds for these purposes.

We'll also insist that you sign an anti-money laundering form to ensure the council is not part of a financial transaction that could amount to handling the proceeds of crime (money laundering). You also have a duty to update the council with every change relating to the finance of the purchase, such as a change in mortgage provider. If you knowingly make false statements or misrepresentations in the purchase of your home, you may be prosecuted.

For free advice and signposting to financial and legal advice, contact the Right to Buy Agent service on 0300 123 0913.

Discount

If you meet the criteria for the Right to Buy scheme, you're entitled to a discount on the full market valuation of the property. The government adjusts this amount on 6 April each year.

The longer you've been a tenant, the larger discount you receive. In London, the maximum discount as of 6 April 2023 is £127,900. The two examples below explain this.

Example 1

If you have a flat and have held a tenancy for 10 years or more:

  • the market valuation of your flat is £340,000
  • your capped maximum discount is £127,900
  • the price paid to buy your flat is £212,100

Example 2

If you have a house and have held a tenancy for 5 years or more:

  • your house has had a market valuation of £540,000
  • your capped maximum discount is £127,900
  • the price you pay to buy your house is £412,100

A special limit on the amount of discount may apply if the property is newly built or acquired, or where there have been improvements, repairs or maintenance work on the property. This is known as the 'cost floor rule'.

If a total of £5,000 or more has been spent in the 10 years (15 years for properties built or acquired by the landlord on or after 2 April 2012) before the Right to Buy application, the discount must not reduce the sale price below the amount that has been spent.

You can check the Right to Buy calculator to help you work out the estimated costs and discount level you're eligible for.

Valuing your property

Once we have all the documentation from every applicant, we can move your application forward to the next stage of arranging a valuation of your property by one of our surveyors (which is a free service). They will contact you directly to arrange an appointment to inspect your home, but in some circumstances will do a ‘desktop’ valuation.

When reaching a decision about how much your home is worth, there are lots of factors they will take into account including:

  • how long you have been a tenant in your current home and any previous public sector tenancies you have told us about that we have verified
  • the cost to the council of buying or building your property as if any work has been done in the last 15 years, the cost of this work may reduce your discount
  • if you have bought through the right to buy before we will take into account the discount you previously received
  • we will take into account any major works that have been carried out by the landlord to improve your home 

Financing your purchase

For most people, buying a home is the biggest investment they will ever make. It’s an exciting time, but there's a lot to think about. It’s a good idea to look into the costs of home ownership as early as possible before you get too far into the Right to Buy process. Even if you don’t need a mortgage, it’s worth checking whether lenders are willing to give mortgages on the type of property you are buying. You're responsible for how you finance your Right to Buy - your landlord can’t arrange this for you.

How to apply

Buying a home can be a long process. The same applies to buying your home through the Right to Buy scheme. There are many checks we have to carry out. If there are several applicants, this can take quite a while so it's vital you have everything ready before you apply. If you do this, it will be a smoother process. Please read this information before you apply.

If you want to go ahead with the purchase of your home, you can quickly check your eligibility below:

 Check if you're eligible

When you're confident you have all the information, you can make your application. The simplest way to do this is online, however, you must have a MySouthwark account set up before you can use this service.

Apply online

Other key information

Once we've received your application, we'll only carry out essential repairs to your property. The property will be excluded from any planned maintenance projects, such as bathroom and kitchen replacements. Once the sale of the property is complete, you will be responsible for all repairs and maintenance within your property.

If you're buying a house, you'll be the freeholder and it usually means there are no services provided. So there are no service charges to pay unless your house is situated on an estate where you may have to pay for some services. If you're buying a flat or maisonette, you're likely to become a leaseholder. Your lease will usually be 125 years and you will be responsible for paying:

  • the day to costs of Southwark providing services to you such as estate cleaning, district heating, lighting etc
  • repairs they we carry out to the block and estate
  • ground rent
  • building’s insurance
  • major works; these are repairs and maintenance to your building that exceed £250 per annum

We recommend you read the information below relating to service charges and owning your home:

Page last updated: 08 November 2023

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