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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 was launched on 16 August 2018. 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 focused on two aspects of the voluntary agreement that the original pilots didn’t 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).

 An independent evaluation of the pilot scheme was published on 8 February 2021.  

No date announced 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.

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 Housing Minister responded to a Parliamentary Question on 8 September 2021 on the timescale for the national roll-out of the VRTB:

The Government remains committed to the Right to Buy and to spreading the dream of home ownership to even more people. The Midlands pilot of the Voluntary Right to Buy scheme completed this year and has been fully evaluated. The Government is looking at the findings, which will be used to inform future policy. As set out in the 2019 manifesto, the Government will evaluate new pilot areas and we will be announcing more details on that.

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.

Further reading


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