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Buying your home

Buying your home is a major decision and a big financial commitment. There are extra expenses both before and after the sale. As a homeowner, you will have more responsibilities. This section explains some of the main points, and gives information about buying your Council home and schemes to help you buy other properties.

Who can buy?

If you have a secure tenancy and became a tenant of a public-sector landlord before 18 January 2005, you have the right to buy your home after you have held a tenancy for at least two years. If you became a tenant on or after 18 January 2005 (when the rules changed), you qualify for the right to buy only after you have held a tenancy for at least five years.

What discount is available?

If you have the right to buy, you qualify for a discount on the value of your home. The amount you get depends on the length of your tenancy and the value of your property.

Getting advice

If you decide you want to buy your home, it may be one of the largest purchases you ever make. You will need to pay for a survey and hire a solicitor. It is important to get professional advice before you go ahead.

Costs

Buying your home is a huge financial commitment. Listed below are some of the costs you must meet.

Before you buy

  • Solicitor’s fees.
  • Mortgage valuation.
  • Structural survey.

After you have bought

  • Monthly mortgage repayments.
  • Buildings insurance (to cover any damage to the building your home is in) – freeholders must arrange their own insurance; leaseholders must pay the cost of the Council’s scheme.
  • Home contents insurance (for your personal belongings).
  • Council Tax – you will get a separate bill from the Council’s finance department.
  • Gas, electricity and water costs.

Service charges

As a freeholder, you must pay all the costs of repairing and maintaining your home.

As a leaseholder, you must pay:

  • for any work needed to keep the inside of your home in good repair
  • an annual charge to cover your proportion of the cost of any repairs to the outside structure or shared areas of the building (which we will do)
  • an annual charge for any services supplied to the shared areas, for example lighting in a communal hallway
  • for major repairs, decoration or improvements at the property, from time to time. We are responsible for keeping the property in good repair and sometimes it may be cheaper to do a major repair, for example renew a roof, than a series of repeated repairs. Leaseholders must pay their share of such costs and the bills can be quite high. If we must do this type of work, we will send you an estimate before the work starts. You will have up to 24 months to pay the bill before we start to charge interest.

Leaseholders aren’t eligible to receive Housing Benefit to cover service charges.

If you want to discuss any aspect of buying your home, or the costs and implications of owning your home, please contact the Home Ownership team. See ‘Useful contacts’ for details.

Moving on

You may sell your property whenever you choose. If you applied to buy your property before 18 January 2005, you must repay some or all of the discount if you sell your property within three years of buying it. If you applied to buy your property on or after 18 January 2005, you must repay some or all of the discount if you sell your property within five years of buying it.

Also, if you completed the purchase of your home on or after 18 January 2005 and you wish to sell within 10 years of buying it, you must give the Council the option of buying back your property at the full market value.

How to buy

For an application form and information pack giving more details, contact the Home Ownership team. See useful contacts for details.

© 2008 Partners For Improvement in Islington
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