Voluntary Right to Buy

The Voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) is a scheme where eligible assured tenants of housing associations will have the chance to buy their homes discounted to the same value as council tenants enjoy under the Right to Buy. 

It is operated on a voluntary basis by housing associations and underpinned by a national agreement between the National Housing Federation and the Government.

This is a pilot scheme launched by the Government on 16th August 2018 to test the policy across the Midlands and WM Housing Group are taking part. All discounts are funded by the Government. Income from sales, plus the discounts will be spent on one for one replacements at a national level.

 

 

Nearly all properties owned by associations in WM Housing Group – Whitefriars, West Mercia Homes, Family and Optima fall within the pilot area local authorities. See the list of local authority areas in scope.

The pilot is for “general needs” properties, which does not include supported housing or housing for older people. Therefore tenants living in supported or housing for older people cannot apply.

Not all tenants are eligible. Please see our tenant eligibility criteria checklist.

There are also occasions where we are unable to sell tenants their current homes. Please see our exempt properties document which lists the type of properties we will not sell. This includes leasehold houses but not leasehold flats.

In these cases, you may be able to “port” your discount to buy another property either owned by WM Housing Group or another housing association where an agreement has been reached to allow as detailed in our Portability Policy.

 

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

The discount you receive will be based on the type of property you live in and how long you have been a public-sector tenant. As part of your application you will be required to submit details of all public-sector tenancies that you have had, which will be added up to create a qualifying period upon which the discount is based.

For more information on the discount see:

What discount could I get

Discount calculator note that in order to use the discount calculator you will need an idea of the value of your property. This can be obtained from estate agents such as Rightmove and Zoopla.

Costs to consider

As part of buying your home, you will have to consider the following costs:

  • Legal costs – solicitor/conveyance
  • The £250 application fee
  • Mortgage broker or adviser costs if you take out a mortgage
  • Land registry fee
  • Stamp Duty if applicable
  • Removal costs

You will also have other costs that you may have to consider once you are a homeowner such as:

  • Freeholders: all maintenance and repair costs
  • Leaseholders (flats only): internal improvements and routine repairs. External repairs and improvements and major structural repairs to the whole block will be the responsibility of the landlord, but you may have to pay service charges each year, and are likely to have to meet the costs of major repairs and refurbishment, which can be substantial.
  • Home insurance

Government Midlands Right to Buy

Government Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants

Citizens Advice

Mortgage Advice Bureau

Think twice before getting advice from any agency that asks you for money to help you. They may be asking you to pay for advice you could just as easily get free of charge from one of the resources above.

 

You must register online to obtain a unique reference number (URN) at the Government’s VRTB website Midlands Right to Buy. The gateway for registering your interest will be open from 16 August to 16 September 2018 inclusive.

By registering your interest you will be entered into a 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.

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.

Shortly after the ballot closes, you will receive an email informing you if your entry has been successful in the ballot.

If successful, you will be emailed within 4 weeks with a URN, which you will need to make your application to us. Your URN will last for 4 weeks from the date of receipt. After this it will no longer work.

Once you have obtained your URN you will need to contact us to start the process of buying your home. You cannot apply unless you have a valid URN.

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.

Your URN is not a 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.

 

What is the Midlands Voluntary Right to Buy pilot?

The Voluntary Right to Buy is a scheme agreed between the Government and the National Housing Federation to give housing association tenants the chance to buy their homes at the same discount level as council tenants have under the Right to Buy.

Along with nearly 50 housing associations in the Midlands, we are taking part in a major pilot to test some technical aspects of the scheme that will address issues that housing associations face, but councils do not.

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.) See our table of participating local authorities.
  • 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 3 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 1 year (and anyone hoping to buy your home with you has been living there 1 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 us 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 have any outstanding debts with WM Housing Group and you can keep a clear account 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 not subject to any legal proceedings.
    • Your home is not let under the following tenancies:
      • Rent to Buy / Shared Ownership
      • Starter / One year fixed term probationary
      • Assured Shorthold Periodic Temporary
      • Assured Shorthold (except Localism Act Fixed-Term Tenancies)
      • Licence (i.e. you are a “Licensee”)

The pilot only applies to general needs housing, so some homes are outside the scope of the pilot and therefore you cannot register for the scheme. The following are outside the scope of the pilot:

  • Sheltered Housing.
  • Supported Housing.
  • Almshouses.
  • Housing co-operatives.

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. See our Portability Policy for more details.

We have published a list of the categories of homes that we cannot sell in our Exempt Properties Document.

Suggested information for tenants on funding the rest of their purchase:

Remember to think very carefully about how you will afford this purchase. You need to ensure 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 WM Housing Group 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. There will also be ongoing costs for repairs and maintenance after you have purchased the property. 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?

Visit the Government’s Right to Buy website at Midlands right to buy. The gateway for registering your interest will be open from 16 August to 16 September 2018 inclusive.

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.

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.

Shortly after the ballot closes, you will receive an email informing you if your entry has been successful in the ballot.

If successful, you will be emailed within 4 weeks with a URN, which you will need to make your application to us. Your URN will last for 4 weeks from the date of receipt. After this it will no longer work.

If successful, you can apply to us, quoting your URN, to start the process of buying your home. You cannot apply unless you have a valid URN.

To apply, you will need to contact WM Housing Group for an application form when you have received your URN.

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.

Also 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.

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.

We can 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 at Exempt Properties Document.

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.

We have called this “porting” your discount. More information is detailed in our Portability Policy.

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

You cannot appeal against the exclusions and portability policies that have been produced, but if you are not happy with the service you have received you can follow our complaints procedure to make a complaint. If you have followed our complaints procedure and still remain dissatisfied, you can contact the Housing Ombudsman: www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk

Housing Ombudsman Service
PO Box 152
Liverpool
L33 7WQ
Tel: 0300 111 3000

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, if we turn your application down or your property is not eligible and you don’t want to port your discount. 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 the Government on this would depend on the level of demand. You can sign up for more information on the Government’s website at right to buy for Housing Association tenants.

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. The Government are using a ballot because they believe this is the fairest way to allocate 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. The 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.

Please note that the VRTB scheme is not open to Shared Owners or those living in our Intermediate Market Rent properties.

You can also view our voluntary right to buy policy.

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