Buying your home from the Council
If you are a secure council tenant you may have the legal right to buy your home - and receive a discount on the price. But you should note these rules:
- You must have held a 'public sector' tenancy (including your tenancy with the Council) for at least three years.
- If you buy your property, then sell it within five years, you must repay some of the discount to us.
- You cannot buy your home in certain cases. For example, if it has special facilities for older people and is set aside for this age group, or if we are taking court proceedings against you.
Discounts are on a rising scale, depending on the length of the tenancy and the type of property. The maximum discount currently offered to council tenants in Epping Forest is £78,600.
Our staff will explain the conditions of purchase and give advice on the whole procedure, from valuation to completion. The Council's service is completely free of charge - you will not be charged an application or valuation fee, or for our legal costs.
See Section Five of your Tenants Handbook for more information on the Right to Buy.
Making your application
Secure tenants who want to purchase a property under the Right to Buy must apply to the Council in writing. To do this you need to fill in a form called an 'RTB1'. You can download the form directly from the Government's website (further details on the purchasing process are given in the guidance leaflet below). We will also send you our Right to Buy Additional Information Form for completion which must be submitted the same time as the RTB1.
If you purchase a house you will become a freeholder, and if you buy a flat or maisonette from the Council you will be a leaseholder. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can give support, as well as independent financial advice, on leaseholds and buying your council home.
Over 900 of our flats and maisonettes have been sold under the "Right to Buy" and the owners are council leaseholders. The freeholds are still owned by the Council and we have certain responsibilities to the leaseholders. For example we need to keep structural parts of their buildings in good repair and we provide services for communal areas. We consult leaseholders before major works to their blocks are carried out.
Leaseholders pay service charges towards these costs. Leasehold matters are dealt with by our Home Ownership Team. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Use the link below to download the "Leaseholders Handbook"
Council leaseholders have a right to be involved in the way their homes are managed, in much the same way as tenants. The Leaseholders Association represents all leaseholders and has representatives on the Epping Forest Tenants and Leaseholders Federation. The Association meets with representatives from the Council on a regular basis. Any leaseholder issues can be discussed, such as service charges and building maintenance. Ask the Home Ownership Team for more information on the Leaseholders Association.
More information on leaseholds:
A number of ‘covenants’ are placed on the sale when council properties are purchased under the right to buy. A covenant restricts what current and future owner occupiers can do. For example, occupiers must obtain the council's permission if they want to:
- carry out structural alterations (such as adding conservatories, extensions, loft conversions, solar panels and so on)
- build another home in their garden, or
- use the property for a business.
If an owner does not get permission, they will have problems when they come to sell their property. This because a future purchaser's solicitor will require proof that permission was given.
Matters relating to covenants on council house sales are dealt with by the Housing Management Office for the area. Plans need to be submitted and a charge is made for considering and administering requests for permission.
Certain isolated Council-owned garages can be purchased by the owners of the property next to them. The garage must be adjacent (right next to the property or joined to it) and the property owner must already be the garage tenant - unless it is vacant and the owner is the next eligible garage applicant.
There are certain rules preventing any change of use which will be explained to the purchaser before buying, and garages can only be sold for the full market value.
Only stand-alone council garages can be sold. Our garages will not be sold if they form part of any garage block.
If you are interested in purchasing a garage next to your property, please apply in writing to The Home Ownership Team.
Occasionally we may sell small areas of land, within housing estates, to local residents.
Requests to purchase Housing land from the Council should be made in writing to the Home Ownership Team. A valuation will then be placed on the land. Our Home Ownership Team will explain the process to you.