This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.

Assured tenants do not have a statutory Right to Buy

Most assured tenants of housing associations don’t 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 don’t have a statutory Right to Buy might have a statutory Right to Acquire (RTA) if their home was built after April 1997 with public funding. There are exemptions to the RTA, eg where the property is in a designated rural area. The RTA offers a less generous discount to eligible tenants.

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 Government funding for a large-scale regional pilot of the VRTB for housing association tenants. After some delay, the Autumn Budget 2017 announced the pilot would go ahead in the Midlands with £200 million of Government funding.

The Midlands pilot scheme

The pilot launched on 16 August 2018. Guidance for housing associations (PDF 966 KB) taking part was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) in May 2018. The pilot focused on two aspects of the voluntary agreement not covered by the original pilots, 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).

An independent evaluation of the pilot scheme was published on 8 February 2021. The Government said outcomes would be assessed before deciding on next steps for the VRTB.

No date announced for full roll-out

No implementation date for the VRTB has been announced, but during a speech on 9 June 2022 the Prime Minister said: “I want us to deliver on the long-standing commitment, made by several governments, to extend the right to buy to housing associations.”

On 13 June 202 Michale Gove told the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Commitee that funding for discounts and replacement homes would come from “across Government”. He also referred to replacing sold homes on a like-for-like basis. The number of tenants able to exercise the VRTB will be capped and will be linked to the level of funding available.

On 14 June 2022, the Minister for Housing, Stuart Andrew said: “We will be working closely with the housing association sector as we develop the scheme and will announce more details in due course.”

Further reading

Disclaimer

The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article 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. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.