Right to buy

The right of council tenants to purchase their homes from the council became law in the Housing Act 1980.

This right to buy (RTB) has been popular nationwide since it began and in Gravesham more than a third of the housing stock has now been sold. The chief features of the RTB scheme are as follows:

Most secure tenants have the right to buy, provided that a minimum period has been spent as a secure tenant in the public sector. This minimum period is: two years if you were a secure tenant before 18 January 2005, or five years if your secure tenancy started after that date.

Certain conditions and exceptions apply in the case of a small number of tenants, and these tenants do not have the Right to Buy.

If you are a secure tenant you may be able to exercise the Right to Buy jointly with members of your family. The member of family must have lived with you throughout the last 12 months. Tenants may share the right to buy with up to three family members, who are not themselves tenants, if the property is their only or principal home. You will be required to provide proof of residence and age of any family member you wish to share the right to buy with you.

Buyers enjoy substantial discounts on the market value of their homes. Download the Right to Buy (Limit on Discount) (England) Order 2012This maximum applies to most of south-east England, including Gravesham. The maximum discount you can receive is capped at £75,000. The discount is calculated in accordance with the length of tenancy, and any time spent as a tenant of another local authority and/or certain other public bodies can usually be taken into account

The Cost Floor

However, a buyer's discount cannot reduce the price at which a home can be bought by more than such sum as the Secretary of State may by order prescribe, nor may it reduce the price below an amount representing the cost incurred by the Council in either building, buying or improving it. This rule applies to any house built or renovated after 1st April 1990. In certain circumstances, therefore, a buyer may not get their full discount, if this would otherwise result in the Council selling below the cost floor price.

Mortgages are no longer offered by this authority and therefore need to be arranged via commercial mortgage lenders.

Standard Conditions of Sale

The sale will include the standard benefits and conditions which are normal to a private purchase of a house or flat. If you sell within 5 years of buying your property you will have to repay some or all the discount you received. The amount of the discount will be a percentage of the market value of the property at the date you sell, but reduced by twenty per cent each complete year which has elapsed from the date of purchase and the date you sell.

If you wish to sell within 10 years of buying your property you must offer it to either us as your former Landlord or to another Social Landlord in your area, whether or not they wish to purchase it and before putting the property on the market.

In the case of flats and maisonettes, the purchaser buys a long lease (usually 125 years) from the council. There are certain obligations on the part of both the landlord and the ex-tenant once this type of property has been sold

The council has no obligation to carry out certain repairs and maintenance works once a property is subject to RTB, between the time the application is made and the time the purchase/sale actually takes place. There are however a number of exceptions, and each case is considered individually

The procedure for RTB purchases - a brief summary:

The tenant completes an RTB1 application form and the council is required to send a notice (RTB2) to the tenant within four weeks, admitting or denying the right to buy. The reason for a denial (see Conditions and Exceptions) must be given, and in certain cases the tenant has the right to appeal.

If the right to buy is admitted, the council arranges for the property to be valued by a commercial valuer and when the valuation is received, the applicant's discount is calculated. (Tenants who are unhappy with the valuation figure may request a re-valuation by the District Valuer).

Not later than eight weeks after sending the RTB2 admitting the right to buy (12 weeks in the case of flats and maisonettes) , the council is required to send to the tenant a Landlord's Section 125 notice. This document details the market value of the property, the discount granted, the sale price, and the various terms and conditions relating to the sale. The tenant is required to accept or reject the offer within 12 weeks of receiving this Section 125 notice.

Once an offer has been accepted the file passes from Housing Services to the Legal Services Department. The Legal Services Department requests plans and other information from the Property Services Section and drafts the appropriate documentation, which is sent to the tenant's solicitor for approval prior to completion.

Any further questions?

If you have any further questions on RTB, we will be pleased to help you. Please contact us in one of the following ways:

  • Write to Miss J Simmonds, Leasehold Officer, Gravesham Borough Council, Civic Centre, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1AU;
  • Telephone 01474 33 71 82 and ask to speak to Miss J Simmonds;
  • Email jacqui.simmonds@gravesham.gov.uk
  • Fax 01474 33 79 41 (please mark your fax message for the attention of Miss J Simmonds)

Further information is available by downloading the Your Right to Buy - Your Home document or by visiting the Communities and Local Government website pages relating to Buying, Selling, Owning a Home including RTB

Last Updated: 01st October 2013