Options for buying your own home

Following the then Prime Minister’s commitment to all former Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk residents to guarantee “…a new home on the same terms as the one they lost” Kensington and Chelsea Council secured a range of properties to replace the homes lost in the tragedy. In many cases these homes are substantially higher in open market value than homes in Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk before the tragedy. The higher value of these new homes means that some residents might struggle to buy their home through Statutory Right to Buy (RtB).

We recognise that some residents had hopes of buying their home in Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk and that it would be unfair if they now faced a far higher cost. We are therefore offering an Enhanced Portable Discount Scheme to enable residents to fulfil this ambition.

Read the three options for buying your home. You can only choose one scheme.

  1. Statutory Right to Buy (assistance to purchase your Council home)

    Council tenants have the Right to Buy the home they are living in, at a discounted price, if they have been a social housing tenant for at least three years.

    If you are a former Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk resident, the time you spent in emergency and temporary accommodation post June 2017, will count towards your three-year qualification period.

    If you are a former Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk resident now living in a property owned by a Housing Association, the Council may have negotiated a contractual Right to Buy for you on the same terms as the statutory scheme. Your eligibility for this scheme would have been made clear to you when you were offered the tenancy. If you are unsure about your eligibility for this scheme, you can contact your landlord or the Grenfell Allocations Team who will be able to check the terms of the contract for you.

    The size of the discount depends upon how long you have been a social housing tenant and whether you are living in a flat or in a house, though there is a maximum cap on the discount. For 2019 / 20, the maximum discount for Statutory Right to Buy is £110,500.

    For further information on this scheme, please speak to your Allocations Officer.
     
  2. Grenfell Assisted Homeownership Scheme (assistance to purchase a share of your new, higher value home)

    This is an enhanced home ownership scheme available to former Grenfell residents provided by the Government.

    It gives former Grenfell residents the Right to Buy a share of their current home that is equivalent in value to their previous Grenfell home, with a Housing Association owning the remaining share.

    The Government has published separate advice on this scheme which is available by contacting the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government:

    By telephone : 0303 44 40078
    By email: GrenfellCorrespondence@communities.gov.uk
     
  3. Enhanced Portable Discount (assistance to purchase a home on the open market)

    In recognition of the fact that former Grenfell residents may not be able to buy their home, even with the options set out above because of affordability or being housed in a property with restrictions placed on it, the Council is offering an enhanced home ownership scheme. This scheme offers former Grenfell residents who qualify for the Statutory Right to Buy, the chance to buy a home anywhere in the country, with some extra financial assistance from the Council, in recognition of the additional costs associated with buying a home on the open market.

    The frequently asked questions provide more information on how this scheme works.

Who can directly apply for the Enhanced Portable Discount Scheme?

You can apply directly for the scheme if, at the time of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, you were living at Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk as:

  • a secure Council tenant (lifetime or fixed term), or
  • an introductory Council tenant, or
  • a resident in temporary accommodation (where the Council had accepted a statutory homelessness duty under part VII of the Housing Act 1996)

You cannot apply directly for the scheme if you were living at Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk and you are now a new Council tenant, meaning those residents who have been rehoused to a new home under the Grenfell Rehousing Policy but did not hold a Council tenancy beforehand. You also cannot apply if you owned your home in Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk.

How much of a discount will I receive?

The Council is offering an additional £50,000 to the discount you would be eligible for through the Statutory Right to Buy scheme. The maximum discount available for Statutory Right to Buy is currently £110,500 for 2019/20. The additional discount would mean through this scheme the maximum total discount you could be eligible for is £160,500.

How can I use the discount?

You can use this discount to buy or help towards buying 100 per cent of the cost of a home on the open market anywhere in the country that is not the home you currently live in. You might wish to use the discount in combination with a mortgage.

The discount will not be paid to you. When you have chosen a home to buy and you are at the stage of paying for it, the Council will transfer the discount to the solicitors representing you in the purchase who will hold the discount for you (in trust) until the completion date. They will then send it to the seller’s solicitor, for you to complete the purchase. You will be expected to sign a legal agreement with the Council stating:

  • that you understand how the Enhanced Portable Discount works, and
  • that you understand that if you sell the property within five years of buying it, you will need to repay some of the discount back to the Council (the longer you will have owned the property within that period the less you will have to pay back).

You will need to seek independent legal advice about this agreement.

If you wish to use the Enhanced Portable Discount money in combination with a mortgage, you will need to make sure you discuss this with your mortgage provider. It is likely your mortgage provider may require a letter of financial commitment from the Council, so please ensure you give the Council enough notice to provide this or any other necessary information to your bank or building society in a timely manner.

Can the Enhanced Portable Discount option be passed on to another family member?

Yes, in certain circumstances.

If you qualify for the scheme (you were a Council tenant in Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk) you can choose to pass the Enhanced Portable Discount option onto another family member who was part of your original household, and who has been housed in their own separate home under the Grenfell Rehousing Policy. This family member will have to relinquish their social housing tenancy when they purchase their new home using the discount.

This means you cannot pass the option on to:

  • a member of your current household who was not a member of your original household
    or
  • a member of your original household who still lives with you
    or
  • a member of your original household who has since moved out and was not rehoused under the Grenfell Rehousing Policy.

Remember, if you choose to pass the Enhanced Portable Discount on to a family member, you cannot apply for it yourself, nor can you apply for the Government’s Grenfell Assisted Homeownership Scheme.

Only one application per original household is allowed for the Grenfell options. However, if you are a Council tenant, you will still be able to apply for the Statutory Right to Buy on your existing home if you wish. 

Can I use the Enhanced Portable Discount to buy the home I am living in?

No, you cannot use the discount to buy the home you chose under the Grenfell Rehousing Policy. If you would like to buy the home you are living in, you may wish to consider using either the Government’s Grenfell Assisted Homeownership Scheme or Statutory Right to Buy.

Is there a restriction on the type or value of the property I can buy?

Yes. You cannot use the discount to buy:

  • A property outside the UK.
  • A mobile home such as a caravan or houseboat.
  • As part of a shared ownership or similar part-ownership schemes.
  • A residential investment (e.g. Buy to Let)
  • A property that is restricted from being sold privately.

There is no restriction on the value of the property you buy, but the Council will check that the selling price of the property you are purchasing reflects its market value.

​​Will I receive any other financial help?

As well as paying you the discount, the Council will also help you pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for your new home. SDLT is a Government tax you must pay when you buy a property over a certain value. The Council will cover the difference between the SDLT for the home you are buying and the SDLT you would have had to pay had you purchased your home in Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk.

You will have to cover all other costs associated with buying a home. For example, this means that you will be responsible for ensuring payment of legal fees, property surveys and independent valuations.

What happens to my Council tenancy if I buy a home?

If you buy a home using the Enhanced Portable Discount you will have to give up your rented Council home and relinquish your Council tenancy.

If you are transferring the discount to a member of your original household, they will have to give up the Council tenancy they were granted under the Grenfell Rehousing Policy, though you will retain your own tenancy and your own statutory Right to Buy.

Family members who decide not to live with you in the home you have bought will not be able to remain living in your Council home. If family members do not wish to move with you to your newly purchased home, they should seek advice about their options from the Council’s Housing Department, as soon as possible.

​​What happens to the Council’s rent, service charge and Council tax commitments to Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk residents if I buy a home using the Enhanced Portable Discount?

As a former Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk resident, the Council committed to cap your rent, service charges and Council tax for the home you moved to under the Grenfell Rehousing Policy.

If you buy a home, these commitments will no longer apply. This means that you will have to pay the service charge, Council tax and other financial costs for your home in full.

​​Where can I get advice if I’m thinking of buying a home?

Buying a home is a big decision. Your home can be an asset for you and your family in future years, and home ownership can give you more freedom such as being able to make changes to your home without needing your landlord’s permission.

But owning a home also brings some added responsibilities and you need to be sure that is the right choice for you and your family. You should consider the following:

  • You may need to get a loan or mortgage to help you buy your home. Will you be able to afford to repay the loan or mortgage, especially if your income falls?
  • Utility bills (gas, electricity, water) and other bills such as Council tax may be higher for the home you buy.
  • You will need to think about buying building and contents insurance.
  • You will be responsible for all the costs of maintaining your home, including routine repairs, major structural repairs, and improvements to it.
  • If you buy a flat or leasehold house, you will have to pay service charges each year, and may also have to meet the costs of major repairs and refurbishment to the block which can often cost a lot of money.
  • If you are elderly and own your home, its value may be considered in assessing whether you are eligible for financial help with the costs of any future residential care needs.

Once you have bought your own home using the Enhanced Portable Discount, the Council will not offer you any further financial assistance. For example, it cannot help you pay your mortgage or act as a guarantor for it, and cannot help you pay bills, service charges, or help you with repairs. 

You should think carefully – home ownership, even with the enhanced options provided by the Council and the Government, may not be the best option for you. If you think it is the best option for you and your family, make sure you have answers to all the questions you need to consider.

If you are thinking of owning your own home, you should seek independent legal and financial advice about your individual circumstances and to help with the legal process of buying a home. You should also get independent financial advice about the different types of mortgage that are available.
You can choose who you would like to seek advice from. There are many organisations who can provide advice and support - some examples of those offering free, impartial, independent advice are listed below.

Advice on being a home owner

The Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) provides free, independent information and advice on being a leaseholder.

Independent financial advice

The Money and Pensions Service is a free, impartial service, set up by the government, to help people make informed choices about managing their money. You can get useful information from their website or you can telephone them on 0115 965 9570.

Mortgage advice

Useful information is available from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Where do I go if I would like to apply for the Enhanced Portable Discount?

Please speak to your Allocations Officer or the Grenfell Allocations Team if you are interested in buying a home using the Enhanced Portable Discount. If you prefer, you can talk to the Dedicated Service first to get further support and advice.​

What happens after I have applied for the Enhanced Portable Discount?

If you choose to apply for the Enhanced Portable Discount, your application will go through several stages. These will include the following:

  • Informal discussions to make sure that you know which of the home buying options you qualify for, and that you have considered which one you prefer.
  • That you have read and understood:
    • the Enhanced Portable Discount factsheet
    • that buying a home through the Enhanced Portable Discount will mean you giving up your current home and Council tenancy, and that you cannot take the commitments on service charges and Council tax to another home.
    • that you also understand the importance of seeking independent legal and financial advice.
  • A formal application for the Enhanced Portable Discount Scheme.
  • Verification and approval of your application, including confirmation that the property you wish to purchase qualifies for the Enhanced Portable Discount.
  • Financial and legal arrangements to transfer the Enhanced Portable Discount to the solicitor representing the person selling the home (and to your mortgage provider if you are using part of the money as a discount on a mortgage) to help you buy your new home.

There is no time limit between the time you enquire and the time you decide to apply– you should take as long as you need.

​​What if I am told that I cannot apply for the Enhanced Portable Discount Scheme?

You can appeal the decision in the following circumstances:

  • You have been told that you do not qualify for the Enhanced Portable Discount Scheme.
  • You have been told that the home you have found cannot be bought using the Enhanced Portable Discount.

You will need to provide as much information as possible in support of your appeal. You should consider seeking legal advice to help you do this. The Council will  review the decision based on the information provided and either reverse the decision or give you an explanation as to why the decision is being upheld.