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FAQ Home Sales - Buying Your Council House

What do you mean by ‘homes sales’?
The home sales service deals with the sale of council properties. Our home sales team is able to advise tenants on the steps that they have to take to buy their home. Although they cannot recommend particular services such as mortgage lenders, solicitors or surveyors, they can support applicants by offering advice and guidance at every stage.

These Frequently Asked Questions explain more about our home sales service.

Can I buy my property?
Who does not have the right to buy their property?
How do I know if I am a secure tenant?
Can I apply if I have rent arrears?
Can any of my family be included in the Right to Buy?
I think I meet the criteria – how do I apply to buy my property?
Can you help me to fill in the form?
Can I appeal if I am denied?
Can I cancel my application?
How do you decide how much I should pay for my home?
What if I disagree with the valuation I am given?
How long do I have to wait for the District Valuer to carry out my independent valuation?
Can I get a discount?
Can I sell my property once I have purchased it?
What does the ‘right of first refusal’ mean?
Are you likely to buy my property from me?
Do I have to appoint my own solicitors and lenders?
Can I sublet my property?
Can my repairs be carried out while I’m on the Right to Buy scheme?
Can I become more involved in helping to monitor the home sales service?
How else can I share my views on the home sales service?
Who do I contact to find out more about home sales?

Can I buy my property?
If you are thinking of buying your council home, please contact our Right to Buy team first of all, rather than approaching a private company.

Everyone has the right to apply to buy their property, but applicants do have to meet certain criteria in order to have the right to buy. The main criteria refer to the length of your secure tenancy:

  • if you became a council tenant before 18 January 2005, you must have been a secure tenant for at least two years
  • if you became a council tenant on or after 18 January 2005, you must have been a secure tenant for at least five years.

The secure tenancies can be held in any part of the country, provided they are with a local authority or recognised housing association, and need not be for continuous years.

Certain homes are not available for sale because they are set aside for rent to specific groups of people, such as older people. However, the home sales team can advise whether or not your home is available to buy.


Who does not have the right to buy their property?
There are a number of groups who will not be eligible to buy their property:
  • non-secure tenants
  • tenants who have received possession orders within the last six years
  • those with insufficient years as a tenant
  • non-qualifying family members
  • anyone under the age of 18
  • those living in ground floor one-bedroom flats or one- or two-bedroom bungalows, if they have been let to the tenant after their 60th birthday.


How do I know if I am a secure tenant?
For your first 12 months of council tenancy, you will be an introductory tenant. After this time, you will become a secure tenant, providing that you continue to meet the conditions of your tenancy and pay your rent on time.


Can I apply if I have rent arrears?
Yes, as long as you have not had a possession order within the last six years. Any rent arrears will need to be cleared before completion.



Can any of my family be included in the Right to Buy?
Only those named on the tenancy records have the right to buy, along with up to three qualifying family members who have lived at the property for 12 months prior to the right to buy application.


I think I meet the criteria – how do I apply to buy my property?
You need to complete form RTB1, which is available from the home sales team and all neighbourhood and housing offices. You can also request a copy of this form by filling in our online form.

We will then make a decision on whether or not you have the right to buy within four weeks of receiving your application.


Can you help me to fill in the form?
Yes, you can either visit our offices on Mole Street, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1XA, or you can call us on 0121 303 7926/7928/7929 and a member of the Home Sales Team will be able to help you.


Can I appeal if I am denied?
If you are told that your home is not available to buy because it is particularly suitable for an older person, you can appeal against this decision. All other decisions made are considered final.


Can I cancel my application?
Yes, you can cancel your application – in writing – at any stage. You can reapply as many times as you wish.



How do you decide how much I should pay for my home?
Once your application has been accepted, a valuer will make an appointment to visit your home to assess its value. The valuer will take into account a number of factors, such as how big your home is, where it is located, its condition (inside and out), the current housing market etc.


What if I disagree with the valuation that I am given?
Within three months of the original offer, you can ask for a second, independent valuation to be carried out by the District Valuer. Please be aware that they may lower, as well as raise, the initial valuation.


How long do I have to wait for the District Valuer to carry out my independent valuation?
As the District Valuer works independently of Birmingham City Council, we have no jurisdiction over the timescales worked to.


Can I get a discount?
There are discounts available which will reduce the price you have to pay for your home, and these differ for houses and flats or maisonettes. The discount depends on how long you have been a council tenant. You can also count the time spent in the Armed Forces.

For houses:

  • The basic discount is 35 per cent off the valuation for five full years of tenancy
  • The discount increases by 1 per cent for each additional full year of tenancy, up to a maximum of 70 per cent

For flats and maisonettes:

  • The basic discount is 50 per cent off the valuation for five full years of tenancy
  • The discount increases by 2 per cent for each additional full year of tenancy, up to a maximum of 70 per cent

In either case, the maximum discount on any property is £77,000.

Can I sell my property once I have purchased it?
Yes, but some of the discount will need to be repaid if it is sold within the first five years after completion. The amount which must be repaid depends on when you applied and when the completion took place.

If you applied prior to 18th January 2005, you only have to repay some of your discount if you sell within three years of completion:

  • within the first year of completion – the full discount is repayable
  • within the second year of completion – two-thirds of the discount is repayable
  • within the third year of completion – one-third of the discount is repayable
  • after three complete years no discount is repayable.

If you applied after 18th January 2005, you will have to repay some of your discount if you sell within five years of completion. The discount repayable will be the same percentage of the resale value of your home as the original percentage discount, not just the discount that was received. This figure is reduced by 20% for each full year after the purchase date, i.e.

  • within the first year of completion – the whole discount is repayable
  • within the second year of completion – 80% (four-fifths) of the discount is repayable
  • within the third year of completion – 60% (three-fifths) of the discount is repayable
  • within the fourth year of completion – 40% (two-fifths) of the discount is repayable
  • within the fifth year of completion – 20% (one-fifth) of the discount is repayable
  • after five complete years no discount is repayable.

What does the ‘right of first refusal’ mean?
If the property is being sold within ten years of purchase from the council, it will always have to be offered back to the council to repurchase in the first instance.

Are you likely to buy my property from me?
At the moment Birmingham City Council has no policy for repurchasing council properties.


Do I have to appoint my own solicitors and lenders?
Yes – the home sales team are unable to recommend these particular services.

Can I sublet my property?
Yes, but certain criteria will need to be met. Contact us for more information.


Can my repairs be carried out while I’m on the Right to Buy scheme?
The only repairs that can be carried out are those deemed dangerous and urgent by the housing team.


Can I become more involved in helping to monitor the home sales service?
Yes you can – we value feedback from customers as it helps us to improve and develop our services. If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved please telephone us on 0121 303 7928 or 0121 303 7929.


How else can I share my views on the home sales service?
Please email your comments to houhousesales@birmingham.gov.uk, or send a letter to Home Sales Team, Mole Street, Sparkbrook, Birmingham B11 1XA.

Who do I contact to find out more about home sales?
You can telephone us on 0121 303 7929 or 0121 303 7928. Our opening hours are 8.45am – 5.15pm Monday – Thursday and 8.45am – 4.15pm on Friday.