Right to Buy

The Right to Buy process was introduced in 1980 to allow tenants to buy their home, provided specific criteria are met by both the property and the tenant(s) living in them.

  • The property must be the tenant’s only or principal home
  • The tenant must be able to show at least 2 years as a public sector tenant*

*For new public sector tenants from 18th January 2005, this rule has now changed to 5 years

The Right to Buy team administers the process free of charge, and can provide you with applications and useful booklets (produced by the Office of the Deputy Prime-Minister), as well as on-going advice if you are currently going through the process.

Anyone thinking of buying their home that would like help or advice can book an appointment to speak to an advisor.

If you would like more information about the process and your eligibility for the scheme, you can contact the Right to Buy team on 020 8583 3916/7/8.

Select a link to find out more information about the Right to Buy Scheme

Charges to Leaseholders/freeholders

Home Ownership deeds

Right to buy abuse

FAQs about the Right to Buy process

Charges to Leaseholders

As a leaseholder, you become liable for charges which are in addition to your mortgage:

Ground Rent: A nominal payment of £10.00 per annum, which is a legal requirement for all leasehold properties.

Building Insurance: This charge is made once a year (on 1st October).

Day-to-Day Service Charges: A proportion of the cost of managing the block and/or estate where your flat is situated. This includes the services that are provided (e.g. caretaking, grounds maintenance, repairs) and the management (e.g. estate management, the Home Ownership Unit (excluding the Right to Buy team).

Major Works Service Charges: A proportion of the cost of major repairs and improvements carried out to your block and/or estate. In some cases, these costs can be considerable.

As a freeholder, you may have to pay some charges to the London Borough of Hounslow:

District Heating: If your heating and hot water was provided by the district heating system while you were a tenant, you can chose to continue receiving this service. If you do so, you will be liable for the costs of providing the service.

Day-to-Day Service Charges: A proportion of the cost of certain services, such as grounds maintenance (and associated management costs)

Some or all of these charges may be due under the terms of the lease (if you are a leaseholder) or the transfer deed (if you are a freeholder), and therefore should be considered when choosing whether to buy your home.

Home Ownership Deeds

Where a property has been sold under the Right to Buy, the Council does not retain the title deeds to that property.

If you have bought your property with a mortgage or loan, the deeds will be retained by your lender.

Your title deeds are important documents. If you hold the deeds to your property yourself, you should ensure that they are kept in a secure place.

Alternative Options for Buying a Home

There are other opportunities available for those who are interested in low-cost home ownership. These include Shared-Ownership and the Home-Buy scheme. If you would like further information about these options, the London Borough of Hounslow website has further information on schemes available.

Right to Buy Abuse

The Government is aware of abuses to the Right to Buy process, such as bogus advice being provided by so-called experts who claim that, for a fee, they will guarantee you will be successfully admitted to the process.

In addition, the Government is particularly concerned about companies that approach tenants offering money and in return, the tenant sells their home to the company following completion of the sale.

Hounslow Homes (and the Home Ownership Unit) is aware that such activities occur within the London Borough of Hounslow. Such abuses are taken seriously. If you have any information on possible abuses, you can contact the Home Ownership Unit (in confidence) by telephone or in writing:

By telephone: 020 8583 3918

In writing:

Right to Buy team

Home Ownership Unit

St. Catherine's House

2 Hanworth Road



TW13 5AB

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Right to Buy Process

I’ve heard that I can buy my home. How does this work?

What do I buy ?

That does it cost to buy my home?

If I buy my home, what happens if I want to sell it ?

What is the rent to mortgage scheme?

I’ve heard that I can buy my home. How does this work?

Most Council tenants have the right to buy, that is the right to purchase their home from the Council at a reduced price.

The property must be the tenant’s only or principal home and the tenant must be able to show at least 2 years as a public sector tenant. For new public sector tenants, the qualification period has now been extended to 5 years.

Sometimes periods as the husband/wife or child of a tenant count towards the 2 year period. Tenancies with many different landlords count as public sector tenancies, most notably tenancies with any local authority and most housing associations and periods in the armed forces. Members of the tenant’s family that share the home may also be able to share the right to buy.

The whole process is set out in legislation. This includes the situations where tenants cannot buy. The main exception applies to tenants in sheltered housing schemes.

What do I buy ?


Tenants in houses normally buy the freehold and become completely independent from the Council. They have to arrange and pay for any works needed to their property. Additionally there may be charges to pay to Hounslow Homes if the house is located on an estate, as freeholders may have to contribute towards the costs of maintaining the estate, and there will still be charges for heating and hot water if the house is connected to a communal heating system.


Tenants in flats and maisonettes buy a lease for a period up to 125 years and become a leaseholder. This gives them rights over their home (including their private garden, if they have one), but the Council still owns the building where the flat is situated and the surrounding areas. The Council has responsibility for looking after the building and the estate, but they have passed on this role to Hounslow Homes. Leaseholders have to make contributions towards Hounslow Homes’ costs of managing and maintaining their block and estate and providing services, such as caretaking. These contributions are called service charges. Service charges can run to many thousands of pounds if major works, such as window and roof renewal, are carried out. Leaseholders also have to pay a ground rent of £10 per year and pay for building insurance arranged by Hounslow Homes.

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What does it cost to buy my home?

The property is valued by a professional valuer as at the date that the application form was received. The market value is then reduced by a discount based on the number of years as a public sector tenant, but there is an upper limit on the discount. The maximum discount in the London Borough of Hounslow is currently £16,000. This means no matter how many years you have been a tenant the purchase price cannot be reduced by more than £16,000.

There is no charge to tenants for all the work the Council and Hounslow Homes have to do during the right to buy process, but tenants will face costs if they decide to go ahead with the purchase after they receive the offer letter setting out the purchase price and other matters. They will normally have to employ a surveyor to advise them about the condition of the building and a solicitor to deal with the legal aspects. They will also have to find the purchase price for the house or flat, usually by taking out a mortgage. They must be able to pay off the loan and the interest on the loan and meet all the costs that home owners pay, including repair, improvement and maintenance costs. Tenants that buy flats must be prepared to pay service charges and other charges to the landlord (Hounslow Homes, acting for LB Hounslow).

If I buy my home, what happens if I want to sell it ?

You can sell your flat or house at any time, but you will have to repay some or all of the discount if you complete the resale within a specific period of time following your purchase:

For tenants who have applied to buy their home, or have bought their home before 18th January 2005, this period is 3 years following the date that you complete(d) your purchase under the right to buy scheme, as follows :-

  • Sale in the first year – repay all discount.
  • Sale after one year but within 2 years – repay one third of discount
  • Sale after 2 years but within 3 years – repay two thirds of discount
  • Sale after 3 years – nothing to repay.

For tenants making new applications after the 18th January 2005, this period for repayment of discount has been extended to 5 years.

LB Hounslow does not buy back former Council flats and houses, so you will probably have to market your home, usually through an estate agent, and pay their fees and legal fees. If you are selling a flat prospective purchasers will probably want to know about any debts on your service charge accounts and about future service charges. We charge a fee for answering queries relating to the resale of flats.

What is the rent to mortgage scheme?

This is part of the right to buy scheme, so you must first have the right to buy . It gives you the opportunity to own your home but defer payment of the full purchase price.

The name of the scheme does not mean you continue to pay rent for your home. However, if you take out a loan to make your initial payment, the monthly repayment of the loan could be roughly the same as your monthly rent as a tenant.

This is not an option for all tenants with the right to buy. It does not, for example, apply to any tenant that received housing benefit during the 12 months prior to their application to buy on rent to mortgage terms. It is a decision to make after the offer notice containing the purchase price is received.

This is a complex scheme which will no longer be available for new applications received after 18th July 2005. We will still be able to process applications on this scheme up to 17th July 2005. We have booklets explaining the Scheme, but we recommend that you discuss this option with Right to Buy staff if you are considering buying on rent to mortgage terms.

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