What is the Right to Buy?
The Right to Buy gives tenants the opportunity purchase their home at a discounted price.
You are eligible to apply if:
- You were previously a secure tenant of Braintree District Council who transferred to Greenfields Community Housing in 2007, or
- You were previously a secure tenant of Colne Housing Society (prior to Greenfields' merger with Colne in 2020 to form Eastlight).
You also need to meet the criteria listed below.
You will keep your Right to Buy if you move to another Eastlight home but will lose it if you move to a home owned by a different landlord. For more information about Right to Buy, see our FAQs below.
What is the Right to Acquire?
If you're not eligible for Right to Buy, you may still be able to buy your home via Right to Acquire, although the discount may be less. You can apply for the Right to Acquire scheme if you live in a qualifying property:
- Built or purchased by a housing association after 31 March 1997
- Paid for through a social housing grant from Homes England or one of its former bodies
- Transferred from a Local Authority after 31 March 1997
- Not situated in a Designated Rural Area.
You must have also been a social housing tenant for a minimum of three years. For more information about the Right to Acquire, please see our FAQs below.
The Right to Acquire discount is a fixed amount set by the Government according to your district.
See the latest information from the Government about discounts and to apply here: https://www.gov.uk/right-to-acquire-buying-housing-association-home/discounts.
Further to the information above, the following is required:
- You must have been a tenant for a minimum of three years
- Your social home must be your only or principal home
- Your property must be self-contained
- You must not be bankrupt or an undischarged bankrupt
- You must not be subject to a court order or owe money to creditors
- You home cannot be subject to a demolition order.
You can buy your home with a cash payment or mortgage from a bank or building society. The maximum amount you can borrow will depend on your income.
Friends and family van help you with the purchase, but we will need to see evidence of how you are funding it.
If you are buying your home with a mortgage, your lender must be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Most banks and building societies are regulated by the FCA. This is to enable your mortgage to take priority over Eastlight’s discount charge.
You may also have to pay an arrangement fee, but your lender should be able to tell you if you will need to pay one.
Please also bear in mind interest rates can go up as well as down, which may affect your mortgage repayments. If you cannot keep up with your repayments, your lender could take you to Court and take possession of your home.
When you become the owner of your home you will be responsible for other costs you would not be as a tenant. These include all repairs to the property, including major repairs and structure maintenance. You will need to carefully weigh up if buying your home is the best option for you.
Other costs to be considered when buying a property include:
- The cost of a building survey – it is recommended you have your own building survey done, as Eastlight does not undertake a full building survey
- Solicitor’s fees
- Life and Mortgage Protection
- Buildings insurance
- Service Charges and Ground Rent if you are buying a flat
- Water rates
- Council Tax
- Electricity and gas
- Other utility services
- Costs for repairs and maintenance and general upkeep of the property.
Hiring a solicitor will incur fees for:
- Search fees – your solicitor will conduct searches to give more information on your home
- Land Registry fees – after you have bought your home you will need to pay to register yourself as the new owner
- Stamp Duty – this is a Government tax, based on the value of your home
If you are buying a house, in most cases you will purchase the freehold and will own the property outright. After completion, Eastlight will no longer have any dealings or interest in the property.
If you are buying a flat, you will be buying a lease. This is a long rent and gives you the right to live in your home for 125 years. You will therefore become a leaseholder.
Eastlight will own the block in which your flat is situated and we will be responsible for maintaining the structure of the building and any communal areas and facilities. You will be responsible for all repairs to the inside of your flat and services solely serving your property.
You become a leaseholder if you purchase your flat, as will be buying a long lease of around 125 years.
As a leaseholder you must pay Eastlight a nominal rent called a Ground Rent, which will be £10 per year. You will also pay service charges to Eastlight. There are two types of service charges you will pay:
- Annual service charges, including a management fee, building insurance and services provided to the building such as, and not limited to, caretaking, lighting, and repairs
- ‘Major works’ when a serious refurbishment is required to the building, for example, a new roof.
The lease will stipulate what can be recharged to you.
The cost of major works could be expensive and run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds and you would pay a proportionate of the cost as per the terms of your lease. The cost could be ‘according to user’ and based on the number of flats in the block. For example, if there are ten flats in the block you will pay one-tenth of the total cost plus any inflationary rate.
Service charges can vary from year to year and if any major works are being undertaken by Eastlight they will be payable in full in the year they are completed. This will significantly increase your payments.
When you apply to buy your home, your offer notice - sometimes called a ‘Section 125 notice’ - will give an estimate of the yearly service charges you will pay to Eastlight. It will also include the cost of any major works undertaken in the first five years.
After the five years you will still pay annual service charges to Eastlight and contribute towards major work. You will be liable for the actual cost of these and, therefore, may see an increase in the charges.
You can sell your home whenever you like, but if you sell it within the first five years of your Right to Buy/Acquire purchase you must pay all or some of the discount you received when you bought your home. The amount repayable is based on the resale value and reduces by one fifth for each following year. After five years no discount will be repayable.
Additionally, if you sell your home within the first ten years of purchase, you must offer Eastlight first refusal before you can sell it on the open market at market value. Eastlight will have eight weeks to accept your offer. If neither party can agree on the market value, the District Valuer will determine the value of the property.
Buying your home is one of the biggest decisions you will make and is a major financial commitment. You should give it careful consideration.
There are companies and individuals that offer tenants money to apply to buy the home on their behalf and there have been cases where tenants have ended up homeless, so be careful if anyone contacts you offering this service.
You may also end up having to repay the discount you received back to Eastlight. In addition, it is unnecessary to use these companies as the Right to Buy/Right to Acquire is free and we can help you with the process. The Government also has Right to Buy agents who can offer tenants independent advice.
If you receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to help with your rent payments, these will cease once you became the property owner. If you receive Housing Benefit, Eastlight also as a legal duty to tell the Local Authority that you have applied, and they may make enquiries about how you are funding your purchase.
Got questions or like to know more?
Please contact us. Our experts will do all they can to ensure you make the right decision for you.