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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Buying your home under the right to buy

You can apply to buy your home if you've rented your home from the Housing Executive or a housing association for the last 5 years.

You can't buy your home if it is

  • a 1 or 2 bedroom bungalow, or
  • in a sheltered housing development.

The right to buy ends for housing association tenants in 2022. You must apply to buy your home by 28 August 2022.

There is no change to the right to buy for Housing Executive tenants.

Qualifying for the right to buy

You can buy your home if you've rented it for at least 5 years. You may be able to buy your home before the 5 year period if 

  • you inherited the tenancy from someone else, or
  • you were renting another social property immediately before you moved into your current home.

Applying to buy your housing association home

Contact your landlord to apply. Ask for a copy of the house sales scheme policy and application form.

You must apply by 28 August 2022.

Applying to buy a Housing Executive home

Download an application form from the Housing Executive's website. You can also ask your local office to send you an application form. 

After you apply

After you send in your application form

  • you get a letter to say your application was received
  • your landlord checks if your application is valid
  • an independent valuer decides on a fair price for the property
  • you get an offer letter with your purchase price
  • you will have six weeks to respond to the offer.

Application to buy refused

Your landlord can refuse your application if

  • you are squatting in the property
  • you owe rent or other charges
  • your landlord is considering legal action against you for antisocial behaviour
  • your landlord has started legal action to evict you.

Get advice if you've been told you can't buy your home.

Buying if you are a joint tenant

All joint tenants must 

  • apply to buy the property together, or
  • give their premission for the property to be sold to the tenant who has applied. 

You can't buy the property if another joint tenant does not agree to the sale. 

Buying with other people

Up to 4 people can apply to buy a property. You can only apply if

  • you are a tenant of the property, or
  • you are the spouse or civil partner of the property, or
  • you have been living at the property with the tenant for at least 12 months. 

Buying a share in the property

You do not have to buy 100% of the property.

You can apply to buy as little as 25% of the property. You can then increase your share in the property in chunks of 5%.

If you buy part of the property you must pay rent on the share of the property you don't own.

Your purchase price

An independent valuer works out how much you will pay for your home. This price is

  • the market value of your property minus
  • the amount of your discount.

Your right to buy discount

You get a 20% discount on the selling price.

Your discount will increase if you've been a tenant for more than 5 years. You get an extra 2% discount for every extra year you've been a tenant.

The maximum discount is

  • 60% of the property value, or
  • £24,000.

You get less discount if you are buying a share in the property.

You may have to repay the discount if you sell the property within 5 years of buying it.

Contact our helpline if you have questions about your discount. The rules are a little different if you are buying as joint tenants or if you've inherited the tenancy from someone else. 

Historic cost

You may not get your full discount.

Your offer letter will include the property's 'historic cost'. This is the amount your landlord spent on building, improving or purchasing the property in the last 10 years.

Your discount cannot take the selling price below the historic cost.

If the market value is less than the historic cost, the selling price will be the market value. You will not get any discount.

Challenging your right to buy valuation

You can ask for another valuation if you think the selling price is too high.

Your offer letter will explain how to ask for a new valuation. You may have to pay for a second valuation.

Accepting the offer to buy

You can

  • accept the landlord's offer,
  • ask for a second valuation, or
  • withdraw your application to buy your home.

You must hire a solicitor if you accept the offer. Your solicitor will help you through the house buying process.