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Are you a council tenant? Why not buy your home if the time is right?

So if you're an eligible council or housing association tenant, take note, because here are eight reasons why you could soon be the owner of your own home.

After a long day, nothing evokes the feelings of comfort, joy and relaxation more than walking through your front door and knowing that your home is all yours. But for council and some housing association tenants, there's a way to go from renting your home to owning it outright through the Government’s Right to Buy scheme. 

So if you're an eligible council or housing association tenant, take note, because here are eight reasons why you could soon be the owner of your own home.

IT'S THE RIGHT TIME - After years of renting and saving, it's time to put your hard earned cash to good use and finally get your foot on the property ladder. And what better time is there when you're debt-free, living in your council or housing association home with no outstanding possession orders? If you have been a council tenant for 3 years and more, and it’s your only or main home, you may be eligible for a discount of up to a whopping £103,900 (£77,900 outside London) off the price of your home under the Right to Buy scheme. So now could be the right time to take that next step towards a long lasting investment for you and your family. 

YOUR HOME IS ELIGIBLE - Just because you live in a council home doesn't necessarily mean you can buy it. If your home is deemed suitable for elderly or disabled people, or is due to be demolished, it may not be eligible in the scheme. Luckily you can check the property status with your landlord before beginning an application. If it's eligible and you meet the other criteria, you're good to go! 

THERE'S A PRETTY BIG SAVING - Who doesn't love a good discount? And depending on these three factors you could be in for quite a saving. It's all worked out by taking into account how long you’ve been a tenant with a public sector landlord, the type of property you’re buying (house or flat) and the value of your home.

AND THE LONGER THE TENANCY, THE BIGGER THE DISCOUNT - You can get a discount of 35% on the cost of your house if you’ve been a public sector tenant for between three and five years. If you live in a flat, it's 50%. After year 5, the discount goes up for every extra year you’ve been a public sector tenant, up to a maximum of 70% – or £77,900 across England and £103,900 in London boroughs, whichever is lower.  So, just say you've been a public sector tenant for ten years, you could buy your flat worth £100,000 for just £40,000 - using a 60% discount. And don't forget, each year the discount cap will increase in line with inflation. 

APPLYING IS PRETTY SIMPLE - Once you've worked out your finances and know you're ready to apply just fill in the Right to Buy application form.   Once it's sent to your landlord they have four weeks to say yes or no to your application (eight if you've been their tenant for less than three years).  If your landlord doesn't agree to sell they must give you a reason why. However, if they agree to sell, they’ll send you an offer letter within eight weeks of saying yes on a freehold property, or 12 weeks if you’re buying a leasehold property.

THERE'S NO NEED TO RUSH - You've got a whole 12 weeks to respond to your landlord's offer which will give you information about the price, how it was worked out, your discount, the property description and land included, as well as details of how much any service charges (for a flat or maisonette) will cost you for the first 5 years. If you think your landlord's valuation of your home is too high, you can have a free independent valuation. Write to your landlord within 3 months of getting your offer and a district valuer from HM Revenue and Customs will visit your home and provide their value of the property. Just make sure you reply to any reminder sent by the landlord if you haven't responded to his offer.  If you don't reply within 28 days to the reminder they could drop your application

YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND AT ANY TIME - If you choose not to go ahead with buying your home, it will not affect your tenancy and you are free to continue to rent from your current landlord. You will just need to inform them and they will close your application. If you reconsider at all in the future you can submit another application. You can still pull out after you have accepted your landlord’s offer but once you’ve started this stage of the process you would have probably started incurring costs – solicitor’s fees and mortgage valuation for example. 

HOME OWNERSHIP BRINGS A SENSE OF SECURITY AND INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE - With owning your home comes a feeling of pride; an investment for you and your family’s future. If you choose to buy you've finally got the freedom to make it the home you've always wanted. Whether you want to redecorate or renovate, home ownership gives you the freedom to make it your own. Whilst it’s a big decision and commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly, this could be the perfect time to decide if it’s the right choice for you.

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