Right to Buy Mortgages > Right to Buy Eligibility

Right to Buy Eligibility

The Right to Buy Scheme is open to anyone who has been a tenant in a council or public sector property (e.g. a property provided by a housing association, the armed services or a public body like an NHS trust) for the minimum length of time, which is currently set at five years for tenancies that started on or after 18 January 2005, and two years for tenancies that began before 18 January 2005. They must also be in a financially secure position to be able to obtain a mortgage and meet the monthly repayments.

There are, however, a number of restrictions that can prevent tenants from purchasing their home through the Right to Buy Scheme. You cannot apply for the scheme if you:

  • are a housing association tenant whose tenancy began on or after 15 January 1989
  • have a court order for the possession of the property
  • are an 'undischarged bankrupt' or have a bankruptcy petition against your name (being declared bankrupt)
  • owe money to creditors

Exceptions to Right to Buy

In addition to personal factors that may prevent a tenant from exercising their right to buy, there are also some types of properties that landlords can refuse to sell through the Right to Buy scheme. These ‘exceptions’ to the Right to Buy scheme are usually homes that are suitable for disabled or elderly residents. For example, your landlord can refuse to sell a property through right to buy if it is deemed to be ‘particularly suitable’ for elderly people, or was let to you for use by a person aged 60 or over.

Other exceptions include a property that is:

  • not your main home
  • owned by a private charity and not a council
  • rented as a condition of your employment, e.g. you work for the fire service
  • rented to you so you can study full time at university
  • rented to you as a temporary home, e.g. for less than three months
  • situated in the grounds of a public building
  • on land that has been bought for development
  • let as part of a business, e.g. a shop, or has been let from a private landlord
  • not self-contained (has a shared kitchen, living room or bathroom)
  • subject to demolition (see below)

Your landlord does not have to make your home available under the right to buy scheme if has been issued with an initial demolition notice, i.e. it is due to be demolished. An initial demolition notice lasts for seven years. During this time, you can still apply for the Right to Buy Scheme and your landlord may still accept your application, or continue with an application that is currently under way. However, once a ‘final demolition notice’ is served, all Right to Buy applications, whether new or ongoing, will become invalid.

If a demolition notice is served after you have started your application, you will have three months to claim compensation for any money you have spent on property surveys, legal fees, mortgage arrangement fees, etc.

Rural property

Greater restrictions may be placed on the purchase of properties that are located in a national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, or an area that is deemed rural for right to buy by the government.

Restrictions may include offering the property back to the landlord if it is resold within ten years, or you may only be allowed to sell your home to a person who has lived or worked in the area for at least three years.

Your landlord will let you know if there are any rural restrictions on your home when you begin your Right to Buy application.