Right to Acquire
right-to-acquire

Right to Acquire

Most housing association tenants have the Right to Acquire, which means that they have the right to buy their home from their housing association at a discount, provided they can meet the criteria.

Criteria

The criteria for tenants to qualify to Right to Acquire include having had a public sector landlord for at least the last 3 years.  The landlords in this category include; Housing Associations, Councils, Armed Services, and NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts.

You need to also make sure that your property is an eligible property, and your landlord must be registered with Homes England.

Eligible properties include:

  • A property that has been built or bought after 31 March 1997.
  • Properties funding by a grant for social housing provided by either local authority or Housing Corporation
  • Alternatively, properties transferred to a housing association from the local authority after 31st March 1997
  • The property must be self-contained and your main residence

Joint Applications

If you are applying with someone else, you can make a joint application.  This must either be with someone who shares your tenancy, or it can be with up to 3 family members who’ve lived with you for the past 12 months even if they are not on the tenancy.

People who will not qualify for this right include someone who is being made bankrupt, someone who has received a court order to leave your home and, if you are a council tenant, if you have a preserved ‘right to buy’.

How do you apply for the right to acquire?

You must complete form RTA1 or you can ask your housing association for a form.  You may want to instruct a solicitor to help you understand these forms and make sure that you are filling them out correctly.

Through the right to acquire the housing association must send you written notice which sets out;

  • The terms and conditions of the sale.
  • The market value of the property.
  • The discount you will get and how this is calculated.
  • Estimates of any service charges you will have to pay.
  • Finally, any structural problems that the council is aware of.

The process allows your housing association the chance to buy either your existing property or another property.

Once they receive your application, the housing association has certain deadlines it must meet to tell you if you are eligible depending on the property type. For a flat they must tell you within 12 weeks if you are eligible.  For a house the deadline is within 8 weeks.

Before deciding whether to buy your property, consider how long you are likely to want to stay there.  If in the future you decide to sell the property you have bought under this scheme, you may need to repay some or all of the discount if it is within the first 5 years after buying it.  This can also apply if the property is repossessed by your mortgage lender during the same period. The amount you will have to repay depends on how soon after buying it that you sell the property.

Ineligible properties

Not all housing association properties are eligible for the right to buy scheme.

The following properties do not qualify for the right to acquire;

  • If it’s not self-contained
  • If it is sheltered housing with service provision
  • If it’s designed or adapted for people with special needs.
  • If it’s provided as part of your job (for example, if you are a caretaker).

If you live in one of these categories of housing, and the association refuses your application to buy it, they must explain why it has been refused, and you will have no right to appeal this decision.

But all is not lost.  If you do not qualify for the right to acquire you may have the right to buy, which is a scheme that the government introduced in 2018.  Alternatively, you may have the preserved right to buy if you were previously a council tenant.  Take legal advice if you are not sure what options are available to you.

Buying Process under the Right to Acquire

The process is still the same as if you were buying from any other property owner, so you will still need to appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf, especially if you are buying with a mortgage, as your mortgage company will insist on having everything checked over by a legal adviser.  If you want to know more about this process, read one some of our other articles about property purchases.

Once you are happy with the terms of the offer you will need to confirm that you would like to go forward with the purchase in writing to your landlord. At this stage your solicitor and landlord will handle everything, and you will be required to sign various documents at different stages. Timescales can vary and can also depend on whether you’ve already got your solicitor and mortgage in place. At any point if you are unsure, and what to get an update don’t be afraid to call someone to find out.

You’ll need to organise your mortgage and it is advisable to get an independent survey from a qualified surveyor. The lender will arrange a survey but this only confirms the value of the property and doesn’t include a thorough check for any structural issues for example.

You will also want to appoint a solicitor to help the whole process run smoothly. They will deal with all the legal aspects and make sure you are getting everything you need to get done on time. You should always ask how much they will charge before instructing them. It might be a good idea to visit the law society website to find information on how to find a solicitor and to see what they will do on your behalf and to familiarizes yourself with the types of documents you can expect throughout.

As soon as you confirm with your landlord you want to proceed, they will prepare and send all the legal documents to your solicitor. Your solicitor will check over al these documents and reports and highlight any issues to you, so you don’t have to worry about picking out the issues your solicitor will worry about this for you. Once you’ve ironed out any issues with the lease and mortgage, the purchase will proceed.

At this stage you are still not committed to the purchase and can still change your mind. But at this stage costs will start in relation to your solicitor etc.

Once you have approved all the terms the purchase will be finalised, and completion will occur on a mutually agreed date. If you are paying a deposit, make sure this money is with your solicitor before the agreed date.

Your solicitor will take the money from your lender and any other money being used for the purchase and pay it to the appropriate parties on or shortly after the date of completion.  This will include all costs, Land registry fees, stamp duty land tax and legal fees. Your solicitor makes these payments on your behalf and handles all the movements of money.

On the date of completion, you must also make sure all rent due is paid to your landlord as if you are in rent arrears the purchase will not go through. Once completed your landlord will end your rent account and you will officially become the legal owner of your home!

Disclaimer – our articles are designed to give you guidance and information.  There is no substitute for proper direct advice, particularly as everyone’s circumstances are different.  If anything in this article may affect you, please contact us for advice that is specific to your circumstances.

What our clients say

Great value for money. Everything went smoothly and I was very pleased with the service provided
Rachel Whitfield
Rachel Whitfield
20:59 12 Oct 18
Excellent! Very responsive, and really helped to push the purchase. There were unexpected delays during the process, but Anthony really helped to reassure me that he was doing everything he could to progress the sale. Ultimately, it all worked out in the end, and I would highly recommend! I would also recommend for auction purposes.
Sean Stevens
Sean Stevens
09:14 21 May 18
Very happy customer. Understanding of our needs and recommended a really fantastic solicitor.
Jack Hearne
Jack Hearne
17:49 12 Oct 18
I have just completed the purchase of my flat with them. They were recommend by the estates agents Phillip Arnold and they were fantastic. My case was handled by Milena who was really helpful and always available on the phone. The online system is also really easy to use. If I buy or sell a property I will definitely be using them again.
Sharon Kelly
Sharon Kelly
18:27 20 Dec 17
I used this service following a recommendation. The online case tracker worked really well. I would recommend this service as it's vital in the coordination between Estate Agencies and between Solicitors. The service proved invaluable in helping progress the conveyancing work efficiently and effectively. Completed the transaction just before Christmas having instructed the Solicitors on the 4th.
Shelly Harrill
Shelly Harrill
16:30 19 Dec 17
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted.
A Google User
A Google User
14:26 19 Dec 18
Have used them twice. Both times completion happened in less than 4 weeks, even over Xmas! Totally amazing. They take the stress out of the whole process.
Daniel West
Daniel West
13:04 21 Dec 18
Excellent Service. Final Price same as quoted
Parsa Khamooshi
Parsa Khamooshi
15:54 21 Dec 18
Being a first time buyer they guided me smoothly through the whole process of moving into my first home. Very professional and economical.
Uday Seth
Uday Seth
12:31 24 Dec 18
Express Conveyancing have been excellent in the handling of my recent house sale and purchase. Would highly recommend
James Ellis
James Ellis
11:43 30 Apr 19
Express Conveyancing have been excellent in the handling of my recent house sale and purchase. Would highly recommend
Michelle Preston
Michelle Preston
12:20 30 Apr 19
ThanksThanks for handling my sale and purchase. No complaints from me. Rebecca was regularly on hand to help with my queries and deal with issues.
Claire Miles
Claire Miles
17:48 07 May 19
I bought my first home in South London with Express Conveyancing . Great professional service, I was regularly updated and looked after. Top marks, 100% recommendation from me!
Dale Griffiths
Dale Griffiths
15:58 02 May 19
Good service and happy with the conveyancer
Chris Jenkins
Chris Jenkins
22:01 17 May 19
Great service from start to finish. Was great being able to see progress online! Very quick and efficient! All staff were helpful. Highly recommend
Reece Moseley
Reece Moseley
06:20 30 May 19
I would highly recommend them. They deal with any queries promptly and efficiently. Would definitely use them again.
Sahar Dalini
Sahar Dalini
09:13 10 Jun 19
Fair prices good efficient service
Sue Batchelor
Sue Batchelor
18:46 01 Jun 19
I would highly recommend them. They deal with any queries promptly and efficiently. Would definitely use them again.
Sahar Dalini
Sahar Dalini
09:14 10 Jun 19
This company does not provide conveyancing services directly, they are an introductory company, paid by solicitors to get clients for them. Once you engage with a conveyancing solicitor suggested by them, they don't interfere, and how quick or slow the process is depends on that solicitor that paid them to recruit you. In our case the solicitor was pleasant and corteous, but a bit relaxed, and the whole process took about 9 weeks - about average, but there was nothing "express" about it.About the app to track progress, it is updated by the conveyancing solicitor, so its its usefulness depends on how much he engages with it. In our case, not so much.
Pedro Silva
Pedro Silva
18:27 02 Oct 19
Absolutely outstanding service provided by Rebecca. She really got things moving when they came to a halt. I was moved within 9 weeks. If it wasn't for Rebecca, the move wouldnt have happened that quick. Definitely use EC again in the future.
Sara Kawsar
Sara Kawsar
11:35 03 Oct 19
we purchased a new build flat. The staff at Express were very helpful in finding us our solicitors who was great.
Carl Devenport
Carl Devenport
14:48 26 Sep 19
great service. Completed quickly as promised
Mark Slavinski
Mark Slavinski
16:52 24 Sep 19
Was looking for a modern solicitor with an online website status page so you can live track your progress. The service was fast and they assigned us with a solicitor firm, which was very fast, efficient and pleasant to deal with. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Cedric Tomas
Cedric Tomas
21:29 13 Mar 20
Express provided me with an excellent firm (WYM Legal) and had a good portal for keeping me updated during the process. The portal did lack detail but nonetheless meant slightly less chasing.
Sarju Shah
Sarju Shah
10:50 11 Apr 20

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