The Right to Buy % A Guide to Buying your Council Home. Right to Buy and Leasehold Services

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1 The Right to Buy A Guide to Buying your Council Home Right to Buy and Leasehold Services %

2 This leaflet gives some guidance and information on how to apply to buy your council home under the Right To Buy Scheme. You should seek independent legal advice and read the booklet published by the Department for Communities and Local Government Your Right to Buy Your Home. Before committing yourself to buying your home, it is important that you make sure you have the funds to do so. Contents How do I know if I have the right to buy?... 3 Claiming the Right to Buy... 5 How much will I have to pay for my home?... 6 How is the discount worked out?... 7 If I decide to sell will I have to repay the discount?... 8 How soon will I know?... 8 What happens next?... 8 What happens if the Council does not respond within the timescale?... 9 What costs and fees will I have to pay?... 9 Leaseholder interview An alternative to Right to Buy Need to know more? Complaints, comments or compliments How to contact us Customer Service Points Right to Buy

3 The Government has asked every council to provide information to its tenants, advising them that one of the benefits of their tenancy is the opportunity to buy their home, with a discount based on the length of tenancy. How do I know if I have the right to buy? You may have the Right to Buy your home, if you are a council tenant and: n you hold a secure tenancy n you have been a council tenant for at least five years. If you are not sure whether you are a secure tenant, your Customer Service Point will be able to advise you. New tenants in Bristol are given an introductory tenancy when they are first allocated a home. This type of tenancy, assuming no tenancy conditions have been broken, becomes a secure tenancy after a period of twelve months. If you have been a council tenant before, in another property, or with another council, this time can be taken into account when the calculations explained later in this leaflet, are made. You cannot buy your home if: n a court makes a possession order that says you must leave your home n You have had a postponed possession order, with a fixed date for possession, made against you n you are an undischarged bankrupt, have a bankruptcy petition pending, or you have made an arrangement with creditors and you still owe them money n the sale will not be completed if you have rent arrears or sundry debts. Right to Buy 3

4 You do not have the Right to Buy if: n your home is particularly suitable for elderly people, it was built before 1st January 1990 and it was allocated for occupation by someone over the age of 60 (If the Right to Buy is denied for this reason, you will have the right of appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal Service.) n you have been served with a Demolition Notice (This is a notice that tells you that the Council intends to demolish your home within the next five years.) n your home is part of a sheltered scheme for the elderly, the physically disabled or people with mental illness n your home is on land that has been bought for development n you live in a home owned by your employer so that you can be near to your place of work n your home is provided by your employer and is located within an operational building, for example you are a caretaker in a residential flat n your home is part of a business such as a shop n your tenancy was granted to you as a homeless person under section 193 of the Housing Act 1996 n you used to be a squatter but have been given a license to occupy your home n you were allocated the property you are living in as a temporary letting, while your own home is being improved or repaired, if you were not a secure tenant of your own home. 4 Right to Buy

5 Claiming the Right to Buy If you wish to make an application to purchase your home under the Right to Buy, you will need to complete a form. The form and leaflet which gives you more information is available from: n any Customer Service Point, or n by telephoning , or n writing to: Right to Buy and Leasehold Services, The Landlord Service (SAH), PO Box 595, Bristol BS99 2AW The form is also downloadable from the council web site The form will be used to work out whether you have the Right to Buy and the possible discount. Completed forms should be sent to Right to Buy and Leasehold Services at the above address or handed in to a Customer Service Point. Your claim will be registered and acknowledged. Right to Buy 5

6 How much will I have to pay for my home? n The cost will be based on the market value of your home at the time you claim the Right to Buy n Less a discount which will be based on the length of your tenancy. The value will be assessed by the council. It will take into account any visible structural defects (the Council does not carry out a structural survey). It will ignore any improvements carried out by either you or a previous tenant If you disagree with the valuation, you have the right to appeal to the District Valuer who will make a determination. This valuation will have to be binding on both you and the council. If the District Valuer is asked to make a valuation, there is the possibility of the price falling or rising. 6 Right to Buy

7 How is the discount worked out? The Government has set the formula for calculating discounts and the various elements are described in the box below. PLEASE NOTE the maximum discount available in Bristol is 75,000. The discount is based on the length of time you have been a council tenant. HOUSES: Five years 35% 1% per year for each additional year with a maximum of 60% on a tenancy of 30 years or more FLATS: Five years 50% 2% per year for each additional year with a maximum of 70% on a tenancy of 15 years or more The amount of discount may be reduced if: n the discount brings the price down to a point where it is less than the amount the Council has spent on the building in the previous ten years. This includes the cost of buying, building, converting or refurbishing the property. n the amount spent is higher than the vacant possession value, you will not receive a discount. n you have bought a property under the Right to Buy before. The discount you received at that time will be taken away from the discount you may be entitled to on a new claim. Right to Buy 7

8 If I decide to sell will I have to repay the discount? If you sell within five years of buying your home, you will need to repay a percentage of the resale value of your home less the value of any improvements. If you sell within the first year, the whole of this amount will be repayable. The amount repayable will reduce by 20% for each year you have owned your home. If you sign an agreement to transfer your home to someone else before you complete your purchase or during the discount repayment period you will have to repay all of the discount. How soon will I know if my claim has been accepted? The Council must serve a Response Notice on you within four weeks of receiving your claim, to say whether it has been accepted or not. If your tenancy with the Council is less than five years but you also had a tenancy with another social landlord, we will reply to you within eight weeks. What happens next? Within eight weeks of accepting your claim (twelve weeks if you are buying a flat), the Council must write to you with details of the terms of the proposed sale and a sale price. 8 Right to Buy

9 What happens if the Council does not respond within the timescale? You can serve an Initial Notice of Delay on the Council giving one month to complete the next step. When the Council has complied, they must then serve a Counter Notice on you to say so. If this Counter Notice is not served within one month, you can then serve the Council with an Operative Notice of Delay. The amount of rent that you would pay during this delay would be taken off the price you have to pay for your home. What costs and fees will I have to pay? If you decide to go ahead with the purchase of your home, you will have to pay a number of fees: n The cost of having a structural survey done n Valuation fees and the costs associated with taking out a mortgage n Legal fees you will need to employ a Solicitor to act on your behalf n Fee to register your ownership at HM Land Registry n Stamp duty These costs will vary and you are advised to get estimates before going ahead. If you do buy your home, you will have to make regular payments as a homeowner, including: n Mortgage payments n Building, life and mortgage protection insurances as well as contents insurance n The maintenance, repair and improvement of your home. Right to Buy 9

10 If you are buying a flat, you will become a leaseholder and will have to pay a service charge. The service charge is a share of the costs incurred by the Council in maintaining and repairing the building and common areas. These include major work such as roof renewal, window replacements, and lift refurbishment or replacement. The service charge also includes a payment for the services provided such as caretaking and laundries. Be aware that: If you do not keep up your mortgage payments, the lender may apply to the Court to repossess your home. The Council does not have to give you another tenancy if you lose your home in this way. If you become unemployed there may be a delay before you receive your benefit (e.g. jobseekers allowance). Additionally, you will only be able to apply for the interest element of your mortgage payment. This does not cover the capital repayment. If you purchase a flat or maisonette and fail to pay your service charges the Council will take you to court and you could lose your home. It is important to find out what these costs are going to be and whether you can afford them, before proceeding with your claim. 10 Right to Buy

11 It is not in every secure tenant s interest to exercise the Right to Buy. Some of the things you might like to consider are: n There are a lot of prefabricated reinforced concrete (PRC) homes in Bristol, which have been found to have structural defects. It would be very difficult to get a mortgage on these properties. n Over half of Bristol City Council s homes are flats, which may not be suitable for families and may have large annual service charges linked to them. Leaseholder interview If you live in a flat or maisonette you will become a leaseholder when you buy. Before this happens, we will invite you to attend an interview at the nearest Customer Service Point with a Right to Buy and Leasehold Officer. At the interview, you will receive full information about what it means to be a leaseholder. We will explain the rights and responsibilities that will be written into your lease. We will also let you know the purchase price and the likely service charge costs over the next five years. The information you receive during the interview will help you to decide if you wish to proceed with your purchase. Right to Buy 11

12 An alternative to Right to Buy The City Council, in partnership with local Housing Associations, operates a number of low cost home ownership schemes, which you might like to consider as an alternative to Right to Buy. However, you would not be entitled to any discount if you used one of these schemes. These schemes are based on the models of: n Shared equity n Shared ownership If you have any questions, or would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Rehousing Team on Need to know more? This information is available on the council web site gov.uk/righttobuy Sometimes our telephone lines can be very busy. If you have an enquiry you might find it more convenient to cut off and return the slip on page 12 with your questions and we will respond to you as soon as we can. Further information Further booklets are available on the following subjects: n Buying a council flat n Leaseholders Handbook n Low Cost Home Ownership 12 Right to Buy

13 Complaints, comments or compliments Bristol City Council is committed to providing a high quality service to all its customers and welcomes your feedback. You can do this by submitting a complaint, comment or compliment, about the services you have received. If you wish to do this you can complete our online form at You can also obtain a Fair Comment leaflet from any Customer Service Point or by contacting our Customer Services Centre. How to contact us If you need to contact the Right to buy and Leasehold Services Team details are set out below. General Enquiries: Textphone: Fax: By Post: Right to Buy and Leasehold Services, The Landlord Service (SAH), PO Box 595, Bristol BS99 2AW By By Internet: Right to Buy 13

14 Please cut along the dotted line and return this slip to: Right to Buy and Leasehold Services, The Landlord Service (SAH), PO Box 595, Bristol BS99 2AW. My enquiry is: Name: Address: address: Contact phone number: 14 Right to Buy

15 Customer Service Points If you would like to see someone in person you can visit any Customer Service Point. Please note opening hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 5pm, Wednesday 10.30am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4.30pm. Extended opening times are available at Phoenix Court, please telephone to check. Fishponds Robinson House Hockeys Lane Fishponds Bristol BS16 3HL Central Bristol Phoenix Court Bond Street South Bristol BS1 3PH Southmead Southmead House Greystoke Avenue Southmead Bristol BS10 6BQ Lawrence Weston Ridingleaze House Lawrence Weston Bristol BS11 0QE Hartcliffe Out of hours emergencies Symes House Tel: Peterson Square Textphone: Hartcliffe Fax: Bristol BS13 0BD If you are unsure which team you need or you have a customers service related enquiry you can Right to Buy 15

16 Translations If English is not your first language and you need a translation, we can get one for you. Bengali Polish Chinese Portuguese Gujarati Punjabi Hindi Somali Kurdish Urdu Kosovan Vietnamese If you would like this information in another language, Braille, audio tape, large print, easy English, BSL video or CD rom or plain text please contact us using the details provided in the booklet. Designed and printed on FSC Sustainably Sourced Material by Bristol Design BD5062 December 2013

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