A voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants

Assured tenants do not have a statutory Right to Buy

Most assured tenants of housing associations do not have a statutory Right to Bu​y. Some assured tenants may have a ‘preserved Right to Buy’ if they were secure tenants of the local authority when ownership of their homes transferred to a housing association.  

Assured tenants who do not have a statutory Right to Buy might have a statutory Right to Acquire if their home was built after April 1997 with public funding. There are exemptions from the Right to Acquire, e.g. where the property is in a designated rural area. 

A voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) for housing association tenants (England)

The National Housing Federation (NHF) and the 2015 Coalition Government entered into an agreement to extend the Right to Buy to assured tenants of housing associations on a voluntary, rather than a statutory, basis (PDF 337 KB).

The initial pilot scheme

Five housing associations piloted the voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) – these schemes closed in October 2016.  The Autumn Statement 2016 announced that the Government would fund a large-scale regional pilot of the VRTB for housing association tenants. After some delay, it was announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 that this pilot would go ahead in the Midlands with £200 million of Government funding. 

The Midlands pilot scheme

The pilot was launched on 16 August 2018 – those interested had to register online before midnight on 16 September 2018. Applicants who were successful in the ballot had to apply direct to their landlord to continue with the process. Landlords carried out additional eligibility checks. Guidance for housing associations (PDF 966 KB) taking part in the Midlands pilot scheme was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in May 2018. The pilot is focused on two aspects of the voluntary agreement that the original pilots did not cover, namely:

  • one-for-one replacement of the sold homes
  • portable discounts (housing associations may refuse to sell certain properties but are required to offer tenants a portable discount to buy another property within the association’s stock or that of another association).

The Government confirmed that the VRTB scheme will not apply to shared-owners (people who part own and part rent their homes).​

No date for full roll-out

No date has been announced for the full roll-out of the VRTB. The 2017 Government said that the impact of the Midlands pilot would be assessed before deciding on the next steps for this policy. Detailed information on the VRTB can be found in the Library paper: Introducing a voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants in England.

The Conservative Party Manifesto 2019 (PDF 4.65 MB) committed to an evaluation of the Midlands pilot scheme and to the evaluation new pilot areas “in order to spread the dream of home ownership to even more people.”

The Government’s ​Right to Buy website​ allows interested parties to sign up to alerts: click on the link entitled ‘housing association tenants’ at the top right-hand of the page and complete a pop-up contact box.

Disclaimer

The Commons Library does not intend the information in these articles to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs.

You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein.

You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information is required. This Library briefing provides information about sources of legal advice and help.