FAQs about the Voluntary Right to Buy Scheme

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme.

  • I am one of your tenants - can I register to buy my home under the Voluntary Right to Buy pilot?

    That depends. We need to ask you a few questions to find out:

    • Which local authority area do you live in? (Your local authority area is the council you pay your council tax to.)
    • Do all of these apply to you?

    - You are over the age of 18
    - You have the right to reside in the UK
    - You have been a public sector tenant in social or affordable housing (usually of a council or a housing association) for at least three years (this need not have been with the same landlord, or continuous)
    - You have been the tenant of the property that you would like to purchase for at least one year (and anyone hoping to buy your home with you has been living there for one year as well)
    - You are not eligible for the Statutory Right to Buy or the Preserved Right to Buy scheme (which could be the case if your home was owned by your local council and was sold to us [or our predecessor organisation] while you were living in it)
    - The property is your only home at the point of sale and you do not own another property anywhere else
    - You (and anyone hoping to buy the home with you) occupy the whole property; that is, you are not occupying a room or rooms in a shared house or flat
    - You do not owe any outstanding money to your housing association, and can keep clear accounts with them until you have bought the home in question
    - You are not currently subject to the mortgage rescue scheme
    - You don’t have any outstanding possession orders
    - You are not subject to bankruptcy proceedings or unfulfilled credit arrangements, and nor is anyone else hoping to buy your home with you
    - You are not subject to an anti-social behaviour order or notice of intent to seek possession for breach of tenancy conditions
    - You are subject to any legal proceedings
    - Your home is not let under the following tenancies:

    o Rent to Buy/Shared Ownership
    o Starter/one year fixed-term probationary
    o Assured Shorthold Periodic Temporary
    o Assured Shorthold (except Localism Act Fixed-Term Tenancies)
    o Licence (i.e. you are a “Licensee”)

    • Is your home outside the scope of the pilot? If so, you cannot register for the scheme. The following are outside the scope of the pilot:

    - Almshouses
    - Housing co-operatives

    • Please note that this scheme only applies to tenanted properties in the south of the county (not to tenants living in North East or northern Lincolnshire).
    • If you live in supported or sheltered housing, you may be out of scope.
    • We may have to decline to sell other homes as well, for a number of reasons. If we cannot not sell you your home but it is not one of the properties above, you may be able to ‘port’ your discount to buy another property in your area.
  • Is my home eligible for the Voluntary Right to Buy?

    The LHP properties which are excluded from the scheme are as follows:

    • In rural areas where there is demand and replacement may be difficult or costly.
    • Single storey accommodation for elderly or disabled in high risk flood areas where there is demand and replacement may be difficult or impossible due to planning policy restrictions.
    • Large homes with four or more bedrooms and specially adapted properties.
    • Supported housing properties where ongoing management or replacement may be difficult or costly.
    • Properties provided through charitable or public benefit resource or bequeathed.
    • Specialist properties of historical interest.
    • Properties where we do not have sufficient legal interest to be able to grant a lease exceeding 21 years for a house or not less than 50 years for a flat.
    • Tied accommodation occupied because the tenant is employed by LHP.
    • Where there are clear restrictive covenants around the protection of rural homes, such as but not limited to Section 106 agreements or Nomination Agreements.
    • Properties held in a Community Land Trust where LHP does not own the title to the land.
    • Where clawback arrangements in transfer agreements mean that you would not receive 100% compensation for the sale.
    • In circumstances where the sale would breach the cost floor.

    Please remember this scheme is only available to tenants in the south of the county – properties within South Holland District Council, East Lindsey District Council, South Kesteven District Council, Boston Borough District Council, West Lindsey District Council, North Kesteven District Council.

  • What happens if my property is not eligible for Voluntary Right to Buy?

    If your property is not eligible to purchase under the VRTB because it is excluded, we may still be able to work with you to identify another property which does qualify. This could be with LHP or another landlord in the Midlands. This process is called ‘porting’.

  • What do I need to consider before I apply?

    Remember to think very carefully about how you will afford this purchase. You need to make sure that you look at all the costs of home ownership, not just the purchase price and mortgage requirements.

    If you are successful in the ballot, as part of the application process you will need to provide us with evidence of your current income and your ability to fund the purchase.

    You will also need to think about the cost of stamp duty, legal fees and possible removal costs. And there will be ongoing costs for repairs and maintenance after you have bought. The Money Advice Service can help you work out what these costs might be for you.

    If you purchase your home under the scheme, and then sell or sublet it within five years, you may have to re-pay all or some of your discount.

  • How do I register?
    1. Visit the government’s Right to Buy website. The gateway for registering your interest is open until Sunday 16 September 2018.
    2. Complete the online form to register your interest and to enter the ballot for a unique reference number (URN). You cannot contact us to go any further with the purchase unless you are successful in the ballot and are given a URN. To register, you will need to provide your name, full address, local authority and the name of your landlord. You will receive an email confirming that your registration has been received.
    3. Because this is a pilot, the number of sales is strictly limited. Not everyone who enters will be able to receive a URN. Successful entrants will be selected at random through a computer ballot.
    4. Shortly after the ballot closes, you will receive an email informing you if your entry has been successful in the ballot.
    5. If successful, you will be emailed within four weeks with a URN, which you will need to make your application to us. Your URN will last for four weeks from the date of receipt. After this it will no longer work.
    6. If successful, you can apply to us, quoting your URN, to start the process of buying your home. You cannot apply to LHP unless you have a valid URN.
    7. When you have been given a valid URN please complete the application form which will be available on our website.
    8. Please note that you will have to pay us a £250 administration fee. This will be refunded either when the sale is completed or if we have to turn you down because you do not meet the eligibility requirements. You will not be refunded if you decide to stop proceeding with the sale – for example, due to difficulty of raising the funds.
    9. Please note that having a URN is no guarantee that you will be able to buy your home. You as a tenant and your home must also be eligible and you will need to have the finances available to buy your home.
    10. If we accept your application and your property is available to buy we will notify you and you will then need to arrange an appointment to bring in documents, pay an application fee for £250 and select a surveyor. You need to arrange this within ten working days of receiving the acceptance letter. If you do not contact us within this time your application will be cancelled.
    11. Please note that the application fee is only refundable at the point of completion of the purchase.
    12. At the appointment you will be asked to select a surveyor to undertake the valuation of your home. We have a list of participating Royal institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) qualified surveyors for you to choose from.
    13. Upon completion of the valuation, we will send you an offer notice. This offer notice will set out:
      - The RICS qualified surveyor’s valuation of your property*, your discount and the price you’ll pay.
      - Any structural problems the landlord knows about.
      - Any terms and conditions of the purchase.
      - For leasehold properties only, your offer notice will also include an estimate of the service charges that you will need to pay over the next five years.
      *If you are not happy with the valuation you can ask for a second valuation at your own cost from another RICS qualified surveyor from the approved list. You may want to check the costs of a second valuation before proceeding.
    14. You will then need to decide whether you want to go ahead with VRTB you have up to four weeks to accept the offer. It is during this time that you will need to arrange a mortgage or loan if you need one, get a survey, instruct a solicitor and get independent financial and legal advice if you have not already done so. It is important that you understand all costs involved before you accept the offer.
    15. If you do not respond within four weeks with the solicitors details your application may be cancelled.
    16. Once you are happy with our terms and have arranged payment for your home you can complete the purchase. It is usually during this time that you pay any stamp duty if applicable and finalise and sign all paperwork. Your solicitor should advise you and help with arrangements for these final stages of the process. This conveyancing stage should be completed within 12 weeks.
  • How long does the process take?

    The timeline of a successful application is:

    Obtain URN

    Four weeks

    Submit application to LHP

    Four – Eight weeks

    Application accepted

    Ten days

    Interview arranged

    Provide documents

    Select surveyor
    Pay £250 fee

    Twelve weeks

    Offer price received

    Four weeks

    Accept offer
    Appoint a solicitor

    Twelve weeks

    Sale completes
    You are a home owner!

  • I was unsuccessful in the ballot. Can I appeal?

    Unfortunately not - the number of sales in the pilot is limited and successful applicants for URNs were selected by a strictly random ballot.

  • You have said you won’t sell me my home. Why not?

    Only ‘general needs’ housing is in the scope of the pilot. If you live in specialist housing for older people or those with additional needs, you may not be able to apply.

    We are allowed to decline to sell other homes as well. You can find a list of the types of homes that we have chosen not to sell on our website above. These can include those built with charitable funding, those which have to remain affordable in perpetuity because of planning condition, and some properties in rural areas. Leasehold houses are also excluded.

  • What is ‘portability’/’porting a discount’?

    If you are eligible but we have declined to sell you the home that you live in, we will offer you a portable discount to buy another property owned by us or another housing association in your area at a discount. This is called ‘porting’ your discount.

    In our case, we will make available to you a list of available properties through our website which will be available to you to consider for a period of one week. If you do not decide within this time the list is withdrawn and the process will be repeated the following week for a period of three months. If you do not find a property within that time your application will be withdrawn.

  • Can I appeal your decision not to sell me my own home?

    You cannot appeal against the policies we have set up about exclusions and portability, but you can complain to the Housing Ombudsman if you think we haven’t properly followed those policies.

    More information about the Housing Ombudsman is here.

  • Why are you asking me for £250? Will I get it back?

    All housing associations taking part in the pilot are charging a £250 administrative fee. This will be refunded either when the sale is completed or if we turn your down. You will not be refunded if you decide to stop proceeding with the sale – for example, due to difficulty of raising the funds.

  • I missed the window for entering the ballot for URNs. Is there anything I can do?

    There are no immediate plans to reopen the ballot. However, any decision by government on this would depend on the level of demand. You can sign up for more information on the Government’s website here and you will receive any new information.

  • Why are you picking people by ballot? That’s not fair.

    The decision to allocate places on the scheme via a ballot was made by the government. Government are using a ballot because they believe this is the fairest way of allocating the limited number of places available in this pilot project.

    The alternative would have been to allocate spaces on a first come, first served basis. Government felt that this would have disadvantaged tenants with accessibility issues or those who could not get onto the internet in the first few days of opening.

  • How is the discount worked out?

    The discount is worked out in an identical way to the statutory Right to Buy.

  • Additional support and advice

    You can get free information and advice from:

    Think twice before getting advice from any agency that asks you for money to help you.

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