If you are currently living in a council house and looking to move, but are unsure of the process, we lay out the different options available and different factors that you might need to consider.
What Is a Council House?
Council houses in the United Kingdom are built by and owned by local councils. They were originally designed to help people rent properties at a cheaper rate than rating in the private housing sector; consequently, they are mostly used by members of the public who could not afford to rent and who could not afford to buy their council homes.
The Right to Buy scheme, introduced in the UK in 1980, gave those living in council properties the option to purchase their place of residence. For many, this was a chance to make a big profit; in fact, the BBC reported that a total of 139 council homeowners who brought their property as part of the Right to Buy scheme sold their homes within a month of purchase and made a collective profit of £2.8 million. As a result, there has been a debate as to whether the Right to Buy scheme should be allowed.
Am I Eligible For Right to Buy?
If you live in a council home, it does not necessarily mean that you are automatically eligible to buy your home; eligibility will different across different locations in the United Kingdom.
Current British law states that you can only buy your council home if:
- It is your main property and is the only home that you reside in
- You are a secure tenant (you adhere to the conditions of the tenancy)
- You have had a landlord in the Public Sector for at least 3 years (not necessarily consecutive)
- Preserved Right to Buy – If your house is sold by the council to a public sector landlord during your period of residency
How Long After Buying A Council House Can You Sell It?
You are legally able to sell your council house at any point after the purchase and completion of documentation for transfer for ownership. That said, if you sell it before the end of a five-year term, you will need to pay back money to the government – this will be the amount of the discount that you benefitted from during the Right To Buy scheme.
If you sell your council house before the end of a ten-year term, there are also certain rules that you need to adhere to regarding offering your home to your council authorities or landlord before opening up the sale to the general public.
How Can You Sell Your Council House?
There are a couple of different options available when selling your council house.
Sell Your Home Within 10 Years of Buying
You can sell your home within 10 years of buying it through the Right To Buy scheme. However, before doing this you will need to first offer the house to your old landlord or a local social landlord. If they do not agree to buy the property within 8 weeks, you then have the option to sell to anyone.
Sell Your Home Within 5 years of Buying
You could also sell your home within 5 years of buying through the Right to Buy scheme. If this is the case, you would need to pay back the full amount of the discount, or a partial amount of the discount (which will range from 20% to 80% depending on the value of your property and when you sell the property).
If you sell within the first year, you will need to pay back all of the discount. After that, the amount that you pay back will reduce. For example, you will pay back 80% of the discount if you sell it in the second year, but 20% of the discount if you sell in the fifth year.