Skip to main content

Right to Buy

Right to Buy (RTB) and Right to Acquire (RTA)

Before deciding whether to buy, you should get independent legal advice and make sure you understand all the costs involved.  Also you will need to understand the difference between Right To Buy (RTB) and Right To Acquire (RTA).

  • Right To Buy is for secure tenants who were with St Helens Council (before 1st July 2002)
  • Right To Acquire is for new tenancies with Helena Partnerships Limited (after 1st  July 2002)

To apply - you can:

 
We will notify you if you have the Right to Buy/Right to Acquire, within four weeks of receiving your form.  Find out more below.
 

What is Right to Buy (RTB) and Right To Acquire (RTA)?

​​The Right to Buy was introduced in 1980. It means that you can buy your council (housing association) home at a discount to the full market value if you have been a secure tenant for five or more years. Your discount is based on the number of years you have spent as a public sector tenant.  Secure (Assured) tenants who were with St Helens Council before the transfer will have the Preserved Right to Buy.

The Right to Acquire is a scheme for tenants in England and Wales to buy their home with a Housing Trust, this scheme will only apply to new tenancies with Helena Partnerships Limited


Can I buy my home?

​You may be able to buy your home if you have a assured tenancy with Helena Partnerships.  Certain types of specialist accommodation is exempt; you may not be able to buy a property that has been designed for the elderly or disabled.  For more information please contact us.  Information is also available from direct.gov.uk​.

Tenancies starting before 18 January 2005
If your secure tenancy started before 18 January 2005 or you were a public sector tenant before this date (and you have been a public sector tenant continuously since that time) you only need to have spent 2 years as a public sector tenant to qualify.

Tenancies starting on or after 18 January 2005
If your tenancy started on or after 18 January 2005 and you have no previous tenancies with any other public sector Landlord, you will have to wait 5 years before you can apply to buy your house.


If I live in a flat or maisonette can I still buy my home?

​Yes, but you will become a leaseholder. This means you are responsible for the interior of your home whilst your landlord will be responsible for looking after the structure and exterior of the block. You will be asked to pay for improvements and repairs to the building through a service charge payable annually.


​​I have rent arrears. Can I still buy my home?

Yes, but your arrears and any other debts such as water charges and rechargeable repairs must be cleared before completion. You cannot buy your home if there is a Possession Notice in force.​


What discount am I eligible for?

Right To Buy:
Your discount depends on the number of years you have been a public sector tenant and on the valuation of your property.  This may include time spent in different homes and/or with different landlords.  If you lived with your parents after the age of 16 and later succeeded the tenancy, you may be able to include that time as well.  You must have a qualifying period of at least three years to be able to buy your home.
 
Houses:
The basic discount after three years is 35% for houses.  You are then entitled to an extra 1% discount for each extra complete year, up to a limit of 70%.
 
Flats and Maisonettes:
The basic discount after three years is 50% for flats and maisonettes.  You are then entitled to an extra 2% discount for each extra complete year, up to a limit of 70%.
Limits on discount:
The Government changed the discount rules on the 6 April 2015 and the maximum cash discount nationally is £77,900.  Whatever percentage of discount you are eligible for, your discount cannot be greater than £77,900.​
 
Right To Acquire:
The discount is a fixed amount published by the Government.  St Helens discount at present is £9,000.00.  If you have had previously received a discount to help you buy your home, this may be taken off your Right To Acquire.  If £9,000.00 discount exceeds 50% of the property value, it will be limited to 50% of the value of the property.

Will I still be able to have repairs carried out on my home when I apply to buy my home?

​When you apply to buy your home you will be entitled to Emergency Repairs only on your home until the completion date. You will not be entitled to any improvements or non-urgent repairs, . On the completion date, the date the property becomes yours, you will be responsible for all repairs and maintenance to your home. If you withdraw your application you will be able to access the repairs service in full.


How much will it cost to buy my home?

As well as the actual cost, you need to budget for fees and other costs.  The amounts will vary but you should budget for one off costs such as; Legal Fees, Survey Fees, Valuation Fees, Land Registry and Stamp Duty.  Other annual costs will include; mortgage repayments, building insurance, life assurance, repairs and maintenance, improvements and perhaps service charges.  You should make sure you understand these extra costs and seek advice if you are not sure.


Things to consider before buying your home...

​Buying your home is probably the biggest financial decision you can make. You should always seek independent financial advice before proceeding. The following factors should also be considered:

  • Can you afford the mortgage repayments and running costs of your own home? You will be responsible for your mortgage repayments, building insurance and any repairs and maintenance on your home.
  • If you are elderly and own your own home, its value may be taken into account when assessing whether you are eligible for financial help for residential care.
  • If you are buying a lease-hold flat or maisonette you will also have to pay an annual service charge.
  • Beware of Right to Buy sales people who may try to get you to sign deals on the doorstep. Never sign any loan agreements unless you have read the terms and conditions and you are fully aware of the commitment you are making. 

Who values my home if I want to buy it?

​​We will value your home, the price will be stated in the Section 125 Notice. if you feel the valuation is too high you can obtain an independent valuation from the District Valuer.  You need to inform us in writing if you wish to go to the District Valuer within 12 weeks of receiving the Section 125 Notice.  The District Valuer assessment is final even if it is higher or lower than the first valuation.

When you are accepted on the Right to Acquire scheme, we may offer you the choice of either buying your existing home or an alternative vacant property within its stock.  You do not have to accept the alternative option, but if you do, you will be able to buy it on the same terms as your own home.


I have carried out my own improvements will these be included in the valuation?

​You will need to provide details of any improvements you have made on your Right to Buy application form. The valuers will assess the improvements on their visit and these then may be excluded from our valuation.​


What happens next?

​We will send you an offer notice, Section 125 Notice which details the price at which you can buy your home and the terms and conditions of the sale. The notice will also describe any structural defects, which we know of and estimates of service charges for leasehold properties. You will then need to decide whether you wish to proceed and inform us of your decision in writing within 12 weeks of receiving your RTB2 notice.​


Getting legal advice...

​Before deciding whether to buy, you should get legal advice, particularly if you have worries about the terms of the sale.  If you don’t know a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer, you might ask your bank or building society to suggest one.  Your local library should also have a list of the solicitors in your area, and details about the type of work they do. You should always ask how much it will cost before you employ a solicitor or licensed conveyancer.​


Getting a mortgage...

​​If you decide to proceed with your purchase and need a Mortgage you should contact your Bank or Building Society. Useful information on mortgages is available from the Financial Services Authority.​


Getting a survey...

​We would advise you to obtain an independent survey from a qualified surveyor or structural engineer. The survey should give you details of any defects on the property. Your lender often arranges a valuation survey as a part of your mortgage application this only gives the estimated value of your property and will not specify any defects.​​


Do I have to complete the purchase within a certain time?

When you advise us that you want to go ahead with the purchase of your home, we will arrange for plans of your property to be drawn up and the legal documentation to be forwarded to your solicitor. Your solicitor will arrange a date for you to complete the purchase with Helena Partnerships Limited. To avoid delays you must ensure that your rent account is clear of any outstanding debt prior to this date.
If Helena Partnerships Limited does not hear from you or your solicitor they may send you a warning notice asking you to complete the purchase within the next 28 days or to write to say if you disagree with the terms of the sale. If the completion does not take place they may send you a further notice asking you to complete. If you do not reply your application will be cancelled.


Can I resell my home after purchasing it under RTB/RTA?

 

Right To Buy:
You may sell your home whenever you like.  If you apply for the Right to Buy from 18 January 2005 onwards and sell within 5 years of buying it you will have to repay the following discount.
  • During the first year, all of the discount will have to be repaid.
  • During the second year, four fifths must be repaid.
  • During the third year, three fifths must be repaid.
  • During the fourth year two fifths must be repaid.
  • During the fifth year one fifth must be repaid.
 
In addition, the amount of discount to be repaid if you sell within 5 years of purchase will be a percentage of the resale value of the property, disregarding the value of any improvements.
 
Right To Acquire:
If you apply for the RTA from 18 January 2005 onwards and sell within 5 years of buying it you will have to pay the following discount:
  • During the first year, 100% repaid.
  • During the second year, 80% repaid.
  • During the third year, 60% repaid.
  • During the fourth year, 40% repaid.
  • During the fifth year, 20% repaid.
 
In addition, the amount of discount to be repaid if you sell within 5 years of purchase will be a percentage of the resale value of the property, disregarding the value of any improvements.
 
If you decide to sell your property within the first 10 years of ownership, then you will be required to offer the property back to Helena Partnerships Limited, to buy your home at the full market value.  If we do not wish to buy your property back, then you are free to sell it on the open market.

What if I wish to cancel my application?

​​You are able to cancel your application at any time during the process, this can be done in writing, and you can reapply to buy at any time​.