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Right to Buy Entitlement of Local Authority Tenancies

Right to Buy Entitlement

  • The right to buy gave tenants the right to buy their homes at a discount, depending on how long they had been living in the property. The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 gave most council and housing association tenants the right to buy their homes. There was a two-year qualifying period and a discount of up to 70% of the market value of the property for a flat and 60% for a house. This is called the ‘preserved right to buy’ and applies to tenants whose tenancy dates from before 30th September 2002 and therefore retain their Right to Buy under the 1987 Housing Act.
  • The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 introduced the Scottish secure tenancy from 30th September 2002. This provided a single, common tenancy for nearly all tenants of local authorities and housing associations in Scotland and made important changes to the right to buy. The qualifying period increased from two to five years and the maximum discount was reduced to 35% or £15,000, whichever was lower. This is called the 'modernised right to buy'.
  • Existing tenants on 1 March 2013 whose tenancies started on or after 30th September 2002 and before 2nd March 2011 have the Right to Buy under modernised terms.  They consist of those who have served the minimum five year qualifying period, and those who have time still to serve before they can exercise their Right to Buy. Any first–time tenancy starting on or after 2nd March 2011 will never have the Right to Buy. Housing association tenants who previously did not have the right to buy now had a modernised right to buy but this was suspended for 10 years until 2012. The Act also gave housing associations the right to apply to extend this suspension beyond 2012. Tenants whose tenancy dates from 2nd March 2011 have no Right to Buy entitlement.

  • The 2010 Housing (Scotland) Act placed an obligation on the Scottish Government to collect, at the end of each financial year, information on the number of local authority tenants who have a Right to Buy entitlement resulting from previous legislation.
  • The provision to end Right to Buy with a two year notice period was included in the Housing (Scotland) Bill which received Royal Assent on 1st August 2014, and the scheme subsequently closed to new applicants on 31 July 2016

  • On 31st March 2016, there were 363,236 tenancies provided by local authorities and the relevant housing associations where local authorities have undergone a stock transfer. Of these tenancies, 229,395 (63%) had some Right to Buy entitlement, down from 246,279 (67%) on 31st March 2015 due to the increasing numbers of new tenants who did not have the right to buy.

  • Around a third (32% or 118,313) of the tenancies with eligibility had ‘Preserved Right to Buy’, with the remainder having modernised right to buy. Of those with modernised right to buy, around 94% (104,246) had passed the qualifying period of 5 years continuous tenancy, up from 64% in 2014 and  82% in 2015 as increasing numbers of tenants reached the 5 year qualifying period.

  • Not all tenants are able to exercise their Right to Buy, for example because the tenancy is in a Pressured Area. Of the 363,236 tenancies with a Right to Buy eligibility, 21% are currently unable to exercise their Right to Buy.

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