Renfrewshire Council

Right to Buy

'Right to Buy' ended for all council and housing association tenants in Scotland on 1 August 2016. Tenants with a right to buy that they are allowed to use had until 31 July 2016 to apply to do so.

For further information please visit the Scottish Government Website

The majority of tenants who hold a Scottish Secure Tenancy had the Right to Buy their Council house or flat. 

Tenants could apply jointly with one or more members of their family, provided that they are at least 18 years of age and have lived at the address for a continuous period of 6 months immediately prior to the application. 

If the tenancy began prior to 30th September 2002 (the old right to buy), an application to purchase could be made after having held a tenancy (in the current house or in any number of properties with relevant landlords) for a period of 2 years immediately prior to submitting the application. If the tenancy began after 30th September 2002 (including transfers), the qualifying period increased to 5 years. This is called the modernised right to buy.

However, you did not have the right to buy if:

  • You became a Council tenant for the first time and your tenancy started after 1 March 2011

  • With some exceptions - you were previously a Council tenant (or tenant of any other social landlord) and you returned to the social rented sector after a break and your new tenancy started after 1 March 2011

  • You became a Council tenant of a new supply Council house after 1 March 2011 (i.e. a property built on or after 25 June 2008 or bought by the Council on or after that date including houses purchased under the Mortgage to Rent scheme)

Frequently Asked Questions

If I have a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy Agreement, can I buy my flat/house under the Right to Buy scheme?

No.

If I have a Scottish Secure Tenancy Agreement, can I buy my flat/house under the Right to Buy scheme?

No. The Right to Buy ended on 31 July 2016, which was the closing date for applications to buy under the scheme. No new applications can be accepted. Any applications received on or before that date will be progressed in the usual way.

Were there any exemptions to the right to buy a Council flat/house?

Some properties are exempt from the right to buy, including group housing schemes for persons with special requirements, e.g. sheltered housing. In addition, tenants who have rent and/or council tax arrears or who are subject to an Anti-social Behaviour Order, may not be eligible to purchase their Council property.

I succeeded to (took over) the tenancy, what terms and conditions will apply?

With some exceptions this will depend on when you succeeded. If your tenancy started before 30 September 2002, and you have succeeded because you are a spouse, partner or joint tenant, you should be eligible to buy using the old terms and conditions. However, if you succeeded to a tenancy on or after 30 September 2002, you will normally need a five-year qualifying period and you normally get the modernised right to buy discount.

I applied to buy before the deadline of 31 July 2016. What's the procedure now?

An acknowledgement letter will be sent within 3 working days of receipt of an application to purchase. If there are any grounds for refusal, notification will be sent to you within one month of the date of the application. The Council has two months from the date of the application to send out a formal offer of sale. During this time, a number of other things will take place; the Council may contact you for confirmation of details on the application form; the Council will arrange for a nominated valuer to value the property; a Deed Plan will be prepared showing the property and any garden that forms part of the tenancy. The valuer and the Housing Officer will both contact you to arrange appointments. The offer will contain information about how the selling price is calculated. The selling price is usually the market value of the property less any discount entitlement. However, the cost of any repairs, maintenance and improvements carried out during the last 10 years is taken into consideration and can affect the price. This is known as the cost floor rule - the offer of sale will indicate if this has affected the selling price. You have one month from the date of the offer of sale to make any changes to the terms of it, but you have two months from the date of the offer to accept, if you do not want to change the terms. We would recommend you employ a solicitor and your solicitor will do this for you on your behalf. We aim to have each Council house sale completed within 26 weeks from receipt of a completed application form. If complications arise with the sale then settlement may take longer.

Who will value the property?

A qualified valuer will value your property. You can choose either the District Valuer from the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or the Council's valuer from the Department of Housing and Property Services. The choice is on the front cover of the application form. You do not pay for this valuation. The valuation is the price the property could be expected to fetch if it were sold on the open market without a sitting tenant and excludes any improvements which you have made. Your discount entitlement will then be deducted from this figure.

What if I am not happy with the valuation of my council house?

You can appeal the valuation by writing to the Council at the address shown above.

Can the Council refuse to sell me the Council property that I'm living in?

If you are entitled to buy, the Council cannot block the sale. Should the Council refuse to sell when you are entitled to purchase your house, or issues an offer to sell containing terms which you think are unreasonable, you may take the matter up with The Clerk, The Lands Tribunal for Scotland, George House, 126 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4HH (telephone: 0131 271 4350) or complete an enquiry form online Lands Tribunal for Scotland Enquiry Form.

Q. Do I need to employ a solicitor to help me buy my Council flat/house?
A. It is advisable to have the services of a solicitor when buying a house or flat. Many people find it helpful to have expert advice in taking important decisions such as this as the wording of legal documents can be complex. You might also find a solicitor's help useful, even before you fill in the application to purchase form. However, you should ask your solicitor about the likely legal costs before applying to purchase so that you have a clear indication at an early stage of what you will have to pay.

How much discount am I entitled to when I buy my Council property?

This information can be found here Your qualification period and discount.

When working out my eligibility to buy my Council house and calculating the discount, can I include tenancies with other public bodies?

When working out whether you qualify to buy and the amount of discount to which you are entitled you may count any periods of tenancy of a house or flat belonging to a public body listed in the application form.

Will I need to have my Council house surveyed before I buy it?

If you apply for a mortgage from a building society, bank or other financial institution you will probably have to have (and pay for) a survey. You may, in addition, wish to arrange for a surveyor to carry out a full structural survey before you decide to buy. A full structural survey will ensure that you have expert advice on the condition of the property before you buy. You would be best advised however, to consult a solicitor or the lender for more details of the likely costs.

Will the Council still do repairs on my property while I am buying my Council flat/house?

Until your purchase is completed the Council must keep in good repair the structure and exterior of your home and keep in good repair and proper working order the installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation. The property will be removed from any planned maintenance or improvement programme. However, once you are the owner of the property, you will be responsible of all repairs and common repairs.

Once I've agreed to purchase my Council flat/house, when do I stop paying rent?

You must keep paying your rent up until the point where you become the owner of your home.

Once I've bought my Council flat/house, can I then re-sell it?

Since you are the outright owner, you may sell your home whenever you like. But if you sell within 3 years of buying it, you will usually have to repay part of the discount you received as follows:

Sell 1st year after purchase - repay the whole discount (100%)
Sell 2nd year after purchase - repay two thirds of the discount (66%)
Sell 3rd year after purchase - repay one third of the discount (33%)
Sell 4th year after purchase - no repayment

When buying my Council house, when does the 3 year repayment of discount period start from?

The discount repayment period will apply from the date that you accept the Council's offer to sell.

If the person who bought the Council flat/house dies before the 3 years are up, does the discount have to be repaid?

No.

What other cost do I need to consider when buying my Council flat/house?

Although the Council makes no charge to tenants who apply to purchase, there are other costs associated with buying a Council flat/house. For example, solicitor's fees, your own surveyors fees, your mortgage, insurances and various other costs.

What happens if I cannot keep up with my mortgage repayments when I buy my Council flat/house?

If you cannot keep up your mortgage repayments because you are sick or become unemployed, you can ask your lender to allow more time to repay your loan. This means you can make lower payments over a longer time. If you can't keep up repayments your lender may go to court and ask to take over your home. But before the happens, many lenders offer arrears counselling facilities which can involve a detailed financial analysis resulting in arranged payments to help you through a difficult period without resorting to repossession. You may wish to consider taking out additional mortgage protection insurance for such eventualities. You should note that the Council does not have to give you another tenancy if you lose your home in this way.

Cancellation of Housing Application

If you have a housing application registered on the Council's waiting list and you decide to buy your present home, your housing application will automatically be cancelled as you are no longer a Council tenant. If you want to keep your name on the Council's waiting list after you have purchased your house you can contact your local Housing Office for further information.

Cancellation of Garden Assistance

If you are currently in receipt of Garden Assistance and you decide to buy your council house this will result in your deletion from the Garden Assistance Scheme as you are no longer a Council tenant. If you wish to have this service continued after you have purchased you will be required to pay for the service. You should contact Community Resources for more advice on this matter.

For further information, please read our guide 'Right to Buy for Council Tenants'.

For further information, you should also read the Scottish Government's guides, Your Right to Buy Your Home: A guide for Scottish Secure Tenants and Thinking about Buying - A Guide to House Purchase in Scotland.

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