The Right to Buy (RTB) scheme gives eligible council tenants the right to buy their home from the council at a discount.
Find out if you qualify for the RTB scheme, how to apply and what is involved from hiring a solicitor to purchasing and maintaining your property.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Who can use this service
- 2. Apply for the RTB scheme
- 3. Next steps in RTB
- 4. Freehold and leasehold property
- 5. Your family Right to Buy
- 6. Right to Buy discounts
- 7. Contact
1. Who can use this service
To qualify for the RTB scheme you must have been a secure tenant for at least three years.
If you are a secure tenant and your tenancy began before 18 January 2005 you are eligible for the RTB scheme.
If you are a secure tenant for three or more years you are eligible for the RTB scheme. The three years or more do not have to be in a Lambeth Council home. They can be with another council or with other public sector landlords.
You do not qualify for the RTB scheme if you:
- live in sheltered housing for the elderly, the disabled or people with mental health problems
- live in a property that is particularly suitable for the elderly and was let to be lived in by someone aged 60 or more
- work for Lambeth Council and your home is part of your conditions of service (this only applies in some cases)
- are an introductory tenant.
You can quickly check your eligibility at the Right to Buy website
2. Apply for the RTB scheme
We offer a free service to help you with the process of buying your home. We can give advice on the RTB scheme, explain the procedures and help you fill out the forms. You can also hire a private company to help you but this will cost you money.
Complete the RTB1 application form
If you are eligible to apply for the Right to Buy scheme complete the RTB1 application form and send it to us.
Once completed, send your form to:
1st Floor Blue Star House
234 - 244 Stockwell Road
3. Next steps in RTB
We will send you a notice (form RTB2) telling you whether you have the right to buy. You should get this within four weeks of sending the claim form to us. If we say that you don't have the right to buy, we must tell you why.
S125 notice form
If you do have the right to buy we will send you another notice (S125 notice) telling you the price you have to pay and the terms of the sale. We will send this to you within eight weeks from the date of the RTB2 notice if your home is a house, and within 12 weeks if your home is a flat or maisonette.
If you think our valuation of your home is wrong, you can ask the district valuer to give an independent valuation. You must make your appeal within 12 weeks from date of the S125 notice. The district valuer's decision is final, whether it is higher or lower than our valuation.
When do I give a decision
After we have sent you the S125 notice you have 12 weeks to tell us whether you want to go ahead with buying your home.
If you do not tell us within this time we will send you a reminder. If you do not tell us your decision within 28 days of getting this reminder we will cancel your application.
Ready to buy
Once you get the offer of sale notice and are ready to buy the property you should contact a solicitor to help you with the legal papers, and a surveyor to value your property.
Get a solicitor
If you want to buy the property you will need a solicitor to tell you about the legal details. If you don't know a solicitor then ask your building society or bank to recommend one. Ask for an estimate of their charges before you decide on a solicitor.
Get a survey
You should get an independent survey from a surveyor or structural engineer. The survey your bank or building society gets will only be for the valuation, and may not tell you about structural faults in the property. Once you are happy about the terms of sale and have arranged to borrow the money, you can buy your home.
4. Freehold and leasehold property
If you buy a house you will almost certainly be buying the freehold. If you buy a flat or a maisonette you will most likely become a leaseholder. You pay the council a small ground rent and a service charge. Service charges can be higher than you might expect.
Council leasehold property
When you buy a leasehold property from us we are still responsible for managing, maintaining, repairing and improving the block and the estate in which it is situated, but you will have to contribute towards the cost. Your contribution is normally billed separately from your annual service charge payment. The S125 notice will include a list of any works that may be carried out in the first five years of the lease with an estimate of costs of your contribution.
Annual service charge
We are responsible for providing services such as:
- estate lighting
- estate grounds maintenance
- cleaning of communal areas
- certain routine repairs and maintenance.
You will pay for this as part of your annual service charge. We will send you an estimate of the annual service charge with the S125 notice.
Make sure that you can afford the service charge when you want to buy your property.
5. Your family Right to Buy
You can buy the property with anyone in your family who is a joint tenant. You can buy the property with up to three members of your family who are not joint tenants if the property is their main home. Anyone (except your husband or wife) who is buying the property must have lived with you for 12 months before you apply to buy.
6. Right to Buy discounts
If you are eligible for the Right to Buy scheme you can get a discount on the price of your home. Usually the exact discount you get depends on how many years you have been a public sector tenant. You can count time spent in different properties and with different landlords, the time you count does not need to be continuous.
Further to the recent changes to the Right to Buy discount amount, the basic percentage discount has changed as well. For houses the discount is 35 per cent, going up by one per cent for every year over and above the five years you have been a public sector tenant (up to a maximum of 60 per cent). For flats the discount is 50 per cent, which goes up two per cent for every year over and above the five years that you have been a public sector tenant (up to a maximum of 70 per cent). Whether it is a house or a flat, the biggest discount you can get is £104,900.
We cannot sell a property for less money than we have spent on it. If we have spent £5,500 or more improving your home over the past 10 years, and the discount reduces the price of your home below what we have spent on it, a special rule called 'cost floor' may apply.
You can get more details on the discount rules and the size of the discount from the home ownership services.
If you sell your home within five years of buying it you will have to pay back some or all of the discount.
If you owe rent on the property you want to buy, you must pay all the rent you owe four weeks before the property is sold to you. If we hold a suspended or outright possession order against you, and you have not kept to the order, we will not accept your application to buy your home.
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