Council tenants: right to buy

1. Introduction

If you’re a council tenant you may have the right to buy your home at a discount price.

Your property will be valued at the market value, based on the date of your application.  Any discount will depend on how long you've had your tenancy for.

You're advised to get independent legal advice, and read the information on the right to buy website.

You must also make sure you have the funds needed to buy and maintain the property.

2. Check if you have the right to buy

You have the right to buy if you:

  • hold a secure tenancy
  • have been a council tenant for at least three years

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to buy your home through right to buy.

Find out if you’re eligible for right to buy on the HM Government website.

We’ll take into account if you’ve been a council tenant before in another property, with another council or social landlord.

3. Some properties aren't suitable

The Right to Buy scheme isn't suitable for everyone.

Some things to consider include:

  • the property may have defects that could make finding a suitable mortgage difficult
  • many of our homes are flats, which may have large annual service charges

4. Other ways to buy a home

We run a number of low cost home ownership schemes with local housing associations. You could consider these instead of the right to buy scheme.

You wouldn’t be entitled to any discount if you use one of these schemes. The schemes are based on models of shared ownership.  

Find out more about shared ownership schemes on GOV.UK.

5. How to apply

Fill in the RTB1 application form and:

When you fill in the RTB1 form, you'll also need to give us:

  • photographic ID from the Acceptable Photographic Identification list 
  • one proof of current residency from the Acceptable Evidence of Residency list 

Each person applying should take the relevant documents, by appointment, to our Citizen Service Point, 100 Temple Street, Bristol BS1 6AG

Without the necessary identification, the application is incomplete and we can't process it.

If you have questions, contact the Right to Buy and Leasehold Services Team on 0117 352 5511 or email home.ownership@bristol.gov.uk.

6. Evidence you need to provide

You'll need to give us:

  • one proof of photographic ID from the Acceptable Photographic Identification list
  • one proof of current residency from the Acceptable Evidence of Residency list

Acceptable Photographic Identification

  • current and valid passport
  • biometric residence permit: current UK work permit
  • current photo driving licence, full or provisional: UK/Isle of Man/Channel islands
  • UK HM Forces ID
  • current national identity card that includes a photo of applicant
  • current citizen card that includes a photo of applicant

Acceptable Evidence of Residency

  • original UK Bank or Building Society statement: not a downloaded internet copy
  • valid bank or building society account opening confirmation letter
  • original UK Credit Card Statement UK: not downloaded internet copy
  • original UK financial statement, such as pension or endowment:  not downloaded internet copy
  • P45 or P60 statement UK and channel islands
  • original UK council Tax statement: not downloaded internet copy
  • UK and Channel Islands work permit or visa
  • original UK utility bill: not downloaded internet copy
  • original UK benefit statement such as pension or child benefit: not downloaded internet copy
  • UK and Channel Islands central government or government agency document giving entitlement, such as DWP, Pensions, Employment Service, HMRC
  • date valid EU National ID card
  • date valid UK and Channel Islands cards that carry the PASS accreditation Logo

We can't accept handwritten letters, undated documents or junk mail as sufficient evidence of residency.

If you have questions, contact the Right to Buy and Leasehold Services Team on 0117 352 5511 or email home.ownership@bristol.gov.uk 

7. If you’re not a tenant

If you’re applying to join in with the Right to Buy, and you’re not a tenant, you’ll need to give us three pieces of Acceptable Evidence of Residency for the following periods:

  • one form of evidence at the time of application
  • one form of evidence 12 months before the application
  • one form of evidence 6 months before the application

If you’re married or in a civil partnership to the tenant and wish to join in the Right to Buy, we need:

  • a copy of the Marriage Certificate or Civil Partnership Certificate
  • one proof of residency from the list below at the time of the application

8. What happens next

We’ll send you a Response Notice (RTB2) in four to eight weeks. The notice will let you know if your claim has been accepted or not .

If we agree to sell, we’ll send you an offer within eight weeks for a house or 12 weeks if you’re buying a flat or maisonette, after the Response Notice (RTB2).  We’ll tell you:

  • the valuation of the property, your discount and how it was worked out, and the sale price
  • a description of the property, including improvements and defects
  • estimates of any service charges (for a flat or maisonette) plus information of possible major works for the first five years

9. Reporting repairs

Once we get your notice claiming the right to buy, we’ll only carry out health and safety repairs.  We won’t carry out general repairs, planned maintenance or improvements to your house.

If the property is a flat or maisonette we’ll carry out repairs to the communal area as normal.

To report an emergency or communal repair, call the repairs team on 0117 922 2200.  Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8.30 to 6pm.

To report an emergency repair out of hours call our emergency team on 0117 922 2050.

10. If you're buying a flat

If you buy a flat or maisonette, you’ll become a leaseholder, and you'll have to contribute to the maintenance and services to the building.

Find out more about being a leaseholder.

11. Leaseholder interview

If you live in a flat or maisonette you’ll become a leaseholder when you buy your home.

Once we get information about the cost of your flat we’ll invite you to an interview at 100 Temple Street with a Right to Buy and Leasehold Services Officer. At the interview you’ll get:

  • full information about the implications of being a leaseholder
  • the sale price of your property

We’ll explain the rights and responsibilities that will be written into your lease. We’ll also let you know:

  • the purchase price
  • any likely service charges
  • any prospective major work over the next five years

The information you get will help you to decide if you wish to continue with the purchase.

12. Selling in the first five years

If you decide to sell in the first five years, you'll have to pay back some or all of the discount you received.

  • 100% of the discount in the first year
  • 80% of the discount in the second year
  • 60% of the discount in the third year
  • 40% of the discount in the fourth year
  • 20% of the discount in the fifth year

The amount you pay back depends on the value of your home when you sell it.

If you sign an agreement to transfer your home to someone else before you complete your purchase or within five years of buying your home you’ll have to repay all of the discount.

13. Contact us

  • Email: home.ownership@bristol.gov.uk

  • Telephone: 0117 352 5511

  • Post: Right to Buy and Leasehold Services (100 TS), Bristol City Council, PO Box 3176, Bristol, BS3 9FS

You can speak to someone face to face by telephoning the Right to Buy and Leasehold Service and asking for an appointment.

Opening hours

  • Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 5pm
  • Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm