EIGHT reasons every council tenant should buy their home - and how to make sure you do it right
Sponsored by Right To Buy
Laura Ingalls Wilder once said 'home is the nicest word there is' and most people would agree.
Because after a long day, nothing evokes the feelings of comfort, joy and relaxation more than walking through your front door and knowing that your home is all yours.
But for council and some housing association tenants, there's a way to go from renting your home to owning it outright through the Government’s Right to Buy scheme.
Right to Buy: If you're an eligible council or housing association tenant, now could be the time to buy your home
So if you're an eligible council or housing association tenant, take note, because here are eight reasons why you could soon be the owner of your own home.
1. IT'S THE RIGHT TIME
After years of renting and saving, it's time to put your hard earned cash to good use and finally get your foot on the property ladder.
And what better time is there when you're debt-free, living in your council or housing association home with no outstanding possession orders?
If you have been a council tenant for 3 years and more, and it’s your only or main home, you may be eligible for a discount of up to a whopping £103,900 (£77,900 outside London) off the price of your home under the Right to Buy scheme.
So now could be the right time to take that next step towards a long lasting investment for you and your family.
2. YOUR HOME IS ELIGIBLE
Just because you live in a council home doesn't necessarily mean you can buy it. If your home is deemed suitable for elderly or disabled people, or is due to be demolished, it may not be eligible in the scheme.
Now could be the right time to take that next step towards a long lasting investment for you and your family
Luckily you can check the property status with your landlord before beginning an application.
If it's eligible and you meet the other criteria, you're good to go!
3. THERE'S A PRETTY BIG SAVING
Who doesn't love a good discount? And depending on these three factors you could be in for quite a saving.
It's all worked out by taking into account how long you’ve been a tenant with a public sector landlord, the type of property you’re buying (house or flat) and the value of your home.
You can work it out for yourself with this Right to Buy calculator, which gives an estimate of the discount you could get with Right to Buy.
4. AND THE LONGER THE TENANCY, THE BIGGER THE DISCOUNT
Save: With the Right to Buy scheme you can save up to £77,900 (£103,900 for Londoners) on the cost of buying your council home
You can get a discount of 35% on the cost of your house if you’ve been a public sector tenant for between three and five years. If you live in a flat, it's 50%.
After year 5, the discount goes up for every extra year you’ve been a public sector tenant, up to a maximum of 70% – or £77,900 across England and £103,900 in London boroughs, whichever is lower.
So, just say you've been a public sector tenant for ten years, you could buy your flat worth £100,000 for just £40,000 - using a 60% discount.
And don't forget, each year the discount cap will increase in line with inflation.
5. APPLYING IS PRETTY SIMPLE
Once you've worked out your finances and know you're ready to apply just fill in the Right to Buy application form.
Once it's sent to your landlord they have four weeks to say yes or no to your application (eight if you've been their tenant for less than three years).
If your landlord doesn't agree to sell they must give you a reason why.
However, if they agree to sell, they’ll send you an offer letter within eight weeks of saying yes on a freehold property, or 12 weeks if you’re buying a leasehold property.
6. THERE'S NO NEED TO RUSH
You've got a whole 12 weeks to respond to your landlord's offer which will give you information about the price, how it was worked out, your discount, the property description and land included, as well as details of how much any service charges (for a flat or maisonette) will cost you for the first 5 years.
If you think your landlord's valuation of your home is too high, you can have a free independent valuation. Write to your landlord within 3 months of getting your offer and a district valuer from HM Revenue and Customs will visit your home and provide their value of the property.
Second opinion: A district valuer from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can do a home visit and give you their value of the property if you think your landlord's valuation is wrong
Just make sure you reply to any reminder sent by the landlord if you haven't responded to his offer. If you don't reply within 28 days to the reminder they could drop your application.
7. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND AT ANY TIME
If you choose not to go ahead with buying your home, it will not affect your tenancy and you are free to continue to rent from your current landlord. You will just need to inform them and they will close your application. If you reconsider at all in the future you can submit another application. You can still pull out after you have accepted your landlord’s offer but once you’ve started this stage of the process you would have probably started incurring costs – solicitor’s fees and mortgage valuation for example.
8. HOME OWNERSHIP BRINGS A SENSE OF SECURITY AND INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE
With owning your home comes a feeling of pride; an investment for you and your family’s future. If you choose to buy you've finally got the freedom to make it the home you've always wanted. Whether you want to redecorate or renovate, home ownership gives you the freedom to make it your own.
Whilst it’s a big decision and commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly, this could be the perfect time to decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Done: Once the deal is done you're free to make your council house a home
Deciding to buy your home can be scary – with lots to think about, from arranging the finance to navigating the legal jargon of solicitors. But there is plenty of help to support you along the way.
As well as the Right to Buy website, the government’s Right to Buy Agent service is on hand to help interested tenants like you take up the Right to Buy. The service offers free and impartial advice, and if you decide home ownership is the right choice for you, can help you through the process from advising on funding and affordability, through to helping with your application and finding a solicitor. Why not give them a call on 0300 123 0913 or visit www.righttobuy.gov.uk for more information.