Voluntary Right to Buy Pilot
The Government has now launched the Voluntary Right to Buy (VRTB) Pilot for housing association tenants in the West Midlands area. This means that tenants who previously did not have the right to buy their home, now do.
The VRTB pilot gives you a discount on the property price, depending on how many years you have been a social housing tenant. The discount is applied to the value of the property.
Some areas covered by Herefordshire Housing are however not within the pilot.
Areas Covered by the Voluntary Right to Buy Pilot
The VRTB pilot does not cover rural areas, which means any housing stock we own in an area that has a population of less than 10,000 will not be eligible for the pilot. However, this does not mean you cannot buy a different property under the scheme, see the Porting section for more information.
Other restrictions include:
- Supported housing schemes where licence agreements are issued
- Intermediate or full market rent properties
- Rent to buy properties
- Shared Ownership properties
- Properties with covenants or S106 agreements restricting them for use as social housing only
- Affordable housing that has been built on a rural exception site
- Properties that would mean a monetary loss for the housing association
- Properties with cost-effective re-development potential
- Homes designated for the elderly (as defined by the Housing Act 1985) where the property is part of a scheme with communal facilities
- Blocks of flats where we already own 100% of the properties in the block
To be part of the scheme there is eligibility criteria that must be met.
You are eligible for the VRTB pilot if:
- You have been a tenant of social or affordable housing for at least 3 years. This includes being a tenant of another housing association. There can be breaks in tenancies, for example, you may have rented privately for a time and then returned to social housing.
- You currently hold an assured or fixed term tenancy with a length of at least 2 years
- You have the right to live in the UK, and can pass immigration status checks
You will not be eligible if:
- You already have the statutory or preserved right to buy
- You have a starter tenancy or a shorthold tenancy for less than 2 years or you are a licensee
- You hold an assured fixed term tenancy where the term is 21 years or more in total
- You have an assured tenancy for a single room in a shared house
- You do not have the right to live in the UK or cannot pass immigration checks
- You became a tenant under the mortgage rescue scheme and are on the original fixed term tenancy
- You are a tenant of alms-houses or a fully mutual co-operative
- You have rent arrears at the point of purchase completion
- You or any joint tenants are subject to bankruptcy proceedings or unfulfilled credit arrangements
- You have committed anti-social behaviour and your landlord has started legal proceedings as a result of this. You would become eligible if the legal proceedings were withdrawn or discontinued
- You have a Notice of Seeking Possession (NSP). You would become eligible if the legal proceedings were withdrawn or discontinued
- You already own a property, even if it’s not you main home
Please see our exclusions and porting policy here
In addition to the purchase price of the property there are a range of other costs that you wil need to cover, some are one off costs, others everyday.
One off costs include (but not limited to)
- legal fees
- land registry fees
- stamp duty
- mortgage arrangement costs
Everyday costs include (but not limited to)
- Mortgage repayments
- buildings and contents insurance
- internal upkeep and maintenance
- gas/solid fuel servicing
- external repairs and improvements
- service charges
You should also consider how you are going to pay for future maintenance costs when required. The table below gives you some information on typical replacement costs and periods.
Typical Replacement Period
|Kitchen and Bathroom||£3,000 - £4,500||20-30 years|
|Roof||£7,500 - £12,000||50 years|
|Windows and doors||£5,000||30 years|
|Gutters and Facia||£1,000||50 years|
(all approximated costs)
There are many stages of the application process. These are set out below.
Stage 1 – Unique Reference Number Application
Read the eligibility criteria for the voluntary right to buy pilot in the eligibility section of this webpage. Extra guidance on eligibility is available at https://midlands.righttobuy.gov.uk
If you think you are eligible, then you need to apply to the Government for a Unique reference Number. You can apply for this at https://midlands.righttobuy.gov.uk. You have from 16th August to 16 September to register. You will receive an email confirmation that your registration has been received.
Your application will then be entered into a ballot, along with all other applicants from across the West Midlands. Applicants will then be chosen at random. The ballot system has been chosen to ensure fair distribution of the limited number of Unique Reference Numbers.
Once the ballot has closed you will receive an email informing you whether your application has been chosen to take part in the pilot. If you have been successful, this email will contain your Unique Reference Number.
Please note: if you receive a Unique Reference Number, this does not guarantee that you will be able to buy your home. This depends on the eligibility of your home and whether you have the funds to buy it.
Stage 2 – Application to the Housing Association
Once you have received your Unique Reference Number, you will need to fill in our online application form. This will be available on our website after 16th September. Applications made without a Unique Reference Number will be declined, and you will have to fill in the application form again.
You have 4 weeks from receiving your Unique Reference Number to apply to the housing association. Your Unique Reference Number will expire after this time, and you will not be able to apply.
All tenants named on the tenancy agreement must agree to purchase the property or sign the voluntary right to buy application form to say they do not wish to be included in the purchase.
You may wish to apply with up to 3 family members to buy the property. However, this must be their main home and be able to prove that they have lived at the property for at least 12 months.
You need to decide this before you submit you application, as no one can be added or removed from the application once it has been submitted to the housing association. If you need to add or remove someone from the application you will need to start your application again.
You will need to provide photographic proof of identification, for example a passport or driving licence. You may be asked to come into our offices with your ID and sign in front of an employee of the housing association. It is the responsibility of the named tenant to provide evidence that family members named in the application are eligible to buy the property with them. This proof can include:
- P45, P60 or payslips
- Current benefit or pension claim letter, book or card
- A utility or council tax bill
- Bank or credit card statement
- Mobile phone bill
If you cannot provide this evidence, the family member will be denied eligibility to buy the property with you.
As part of the application you will need to provide proof of the qualifying periods you have as a social housing tenant. The longer you have been a tenant, the more discount you will receive when purchasing your property. Qualifying periods include:
- Periods as a public sector (council) tenant
- All assured or shorthold tenancies you may have had, including probationary periods
- Periods as a tenant of almshouses or an MOD tenant
It is your responsibility to provide a letter from each landlord that is not in the Connexus Group confirming the tenancy start and end dates, and the names of all the tenants on the tenancy agreement. We will accept a Statutory Declaration, but you must also supply:
- A copy of the electoral register confirming occupancy during the period being claimed
- A letter from the landlord confirming the property was in their ownership during the period being claimed
You can fill in a Statutory Declaration form at a local solicitor’s office.
Stage 3 – Verification and Payment of the Application Fee
After you have submitted your application to the housing association, they will check your application form and confirm your eligibility. This will take around 4 weeks. The housing association will then ask you to pay the application fee of £250. This will be refunded if:
- The property purchase is completed
- The purchase is not completed due to the housing association withdrawing the offer
- Government funding is no longer available
No repairs or planned improvement works will be carried out on your property after the administration fee has been received, unless it is an emergency, or your annual heating servicing is due within this time and the time you purchase the property.
You will receive a discount for each complete year you have been a social housing tenant. This will be applied to the value of the property. It is your responsibility to provide evidence of tenancies that were held with landlords outside of Connexus. See the qualifying period section for more information.
Freehold properties - no discount will be applied if your tenancy is between 3 and 5 years. A 35% discount will be given after 5 years, plus an additional 1% for each complete year, up to a maximum of 70% or £80,900, whichever is lower.
Leasehold properties - no discount will be applied if your tenancy is between 3 and 5 years. A 50% discount will be given after 5 years plus an additional 2% discount for each complete year, up to a maximum of 70% or £80,900, whichever is lower.
If you are eligible to purchase your property, and have a Unique Reference Number from the Government, but your property is one that will not be sold by the housing association, you may be able to transfer your right to buy entitlement to another suitable property that is owned within Connexus. This is properties owned by Herefordshire Housing, Meres and Mosses Housing Association or South Shropshire Housing Association. This is called porting.
We will tell you if you will be allowed to port during the application process, after you have received a Unique Reference Number from the Government.
The property will have to be a similar size, for example a house or flat, and the same number of bedrooms. If you require aids and adaptations in the property, you will be expected to provide these yourself.
If you are offered the chance to port you will have the option to either:
- Discontinue the process. If you decline the opportunity to port or do not tell us within 4 weeks, your application will be cancelled
- Port to a different property. Your application will be paused while an alternative property is identified
If you decide to port to another property your application will be paused while an alternative property is found.
If you wish to port to another property, there are a number of options available to you, but you are required to have active involvement in selecting another home. You will need to register with your landlord as a ‘porting tenant’.
You will be able to choose from properties that:
- Become empty within the area that is covered by the voluntary right to buy pilot
- You can find a mutual exchange property in an area covered by the voluntary right buy pilot
- Are identified under the Asset Disposal and Investment Programme. Your landlord will advise you of these properties
- Are currently being built or acquired by Connexus. As a porting tenant, you will automatically be given preference over other bidders for these properties
You will be offered up to 3 properties (depending on property availability) over a 3 month period. If an alternative property has not been identified, has been offered and rejected or you have not responded to the porting process, the voluntary right to buy application will be cancelled.
If you are offered an alternative property, you will need to decide whether to accept it or not within 48 hours. You will be required to move to the property before you buy it, and you will be given a fixed term tenancy. If the property sale has not completed within the term of the tenancy, no other tenancy will be granted.
If you require aids and adaptations to be able to live in the new property, you may be able to stay in the current property, if those adaptations are currently in place, until the sale is completed.
Valuations and discount calculations will be based on the property that you will be moving to, not the current property.
Once the application form and evidence has been checked and verified, the buying process will begin.
Valuation of the property
A valuation of the property will be needed. Your landlord will give you a choice of 3 RICS qualified valuers for you to choose from within 3 working days of being given the details. The valuer will then contact you directly and make an appointment with you to value the property. If you do not keep in contact with the valuer or miss 2 appointments, your application will be cancelled. Your landlord will pay for the first valuation.
The valuer will survey the property and mark out boundary lines. It is your responsibility to show the valuer any out buildings or garages that should be included in the sale. These will be verified by your landlord before a valuation is given.
Disputing the valuation
You have the right to dispute the valuation, however, a second valuation will need to be carried out by another valuer on the list given to you by your landlord. You will have to pay the cost of the valuation. If your landlord disputes the original valuation, then your landlord will pay for the second valuation.
Once the valuation has been received, we will send you an Offer Notice confirming the valuation, discount you are entitled to, selling price, details of service charges and works your landlord would have carried out over the next 5 years. You will have a maximum of 12 weeks from the date of the Offer Notice to accept. If you do not accept within this time, the offer will be withdrawn and your application cancelled.
Accepting the offer
You will need to confirm in writing that you accept the offer. You must include details of the solicitor you are using and how you are funding the purchase of the property. If you have secured a mortgage, the lender must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. If it is a cash purchase, for example, from your savings, you must provide evidence of this. This could be through bank statements or supporting letters.
Your rent account must be clear at the time of completion of the sale.
Your offer letter will say whether a freehold or lease is being offered.
All applications are subject to Government funding. If the funding for the financial year has been used up, the application will not be completed.
It is your responsibility to stick to the timescales set out during the selling process. If you do not stick to these timescales, then your application will be cancelled.
Sell On Clause and Repayment of Discount
If you decide to sell the property within 10 years, you will need to tell your former landlord. The landlords within Connexus have the right to repurchase the property before you sell it to anyone else. If your former landlord declines to buy the property, you must then offer the property to another social landlord in the area.
The property will be bought back at full market value, after a valuation has taken place.
You will have to pay back to discount you received on the purchase if the property is sold within 5 years, according to the percentages below:
- Year 1 - 100%
- Year 2 - 80%
- Year 3 - 60%
- Year 4 – 40%
- Year 5 – 20%
We have the discretion not to require pay back of the discount from you if you are transferring ownership of the property to a family member. There may, however be a charge for transferring the title deed to the new owner.
The discount will also be repayable if you are found to be in breach of the terms of the sale, lease or you have committed fraud.