The real pros and cons of buying an ex-council home

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Victoria Mews Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects
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Thanks to rising house prices and interest rates, more and more people in the UK are struggling to get on the property ladder, but many professionals in the property industry, including estate agents, have noticed something of a buying trend developing! 

In short, people looking to own their own houses are more open to considering ex-council houses for sale and while the benefits are obvious, we wanted to take a more rounded look at this plan! Come with us now and see if buying an ex-council house could be the answer to your prayers and if you can overcome the cons associated with the process! 

The Pros!

Just a normal London home! homify Classic style houses

Just a normal London home!


The biggest upside to buying an ex-council house is that they tend to be far cheaper than comparably-sized properties, within the same area. This is even more of a selling point if you are already renting a council house that offers you the opportunity to buy it, as your previous years of rent are usually taken into account and deducted from the value. 

Let's not forget that an ex-council house will usually be of a good-build quality (which is why there are so many concrete ex-council houses), as local authorities had no interest in ongoing maintenance costs, plus, they were designed to comfortably and safely house families, so they are usually surprisingly spacious! A three-bedroom home really might not be out of reach!

Even if you don't want to live in an ex-council home forever, you'll find that they offer fantastic rentability! As the start of a property portfolio, a lower-cost ex-authority house will never be difficult to rent out, if you buy one in a nice area that is family friendly!

The cons!

Highgate TG Studio
TG Studio


TG Studio

Dealing with the local council, in a bid to buy a property they own, is a definite downside to the whole idea of investing in an ex-council house! Local authorities are notorious for not making things massively easy and can even drag their feet a little bit, but keep pushing and you'll complete in decent time, if you want to!

Another con of buying an ex-council house is that it can be difficult to get a mortgage arranged. Extensive surveys will be needed and a thorough audit of your finances will all be necessary but then on top of that, you'll have the annoyance of offset price reductions, if you have been a council tenant for a long time. If you ask the council who they suggest getting a mortgage through, this might speed up the process.

Finally, we are going to add in a con that actually, we don't think anyone should be affected by these days. Some people might think that there is a stigmas attached to owning an ex-council home, but what do they know? If anything, it's a sign that you have been savvy with your money, spotted a viable opportunity and struck while the iron was hot. We think that should be applauded, not frowned upon!

Buying an ex-council flat: What are you buying?

Apartments and flats are usually sold on a long lease (about 125 years), and not as a freehold. This allows you to live in the ex-council flat during this time, or sell it. If your flat is purchased from a council, housing association or another social landlord, they will usually own the land as well as the building, and be your landlords. 

Buying an ex-council flat: What are your legal obligations?

Dunollie Place, Kentish Town, London - NW5 Brosh Architects Modern houses Bricks White
Brosh Architects

Dunollie Place, Kentish Town, London—NW5

Brosh Architects

The lease will stipulate what your obligations to the landlord are, as well as your rights. For instance, it will include the landlord’s responsibilities to maintain the building, your payment schedule, what you may and may not do to the interiors of your flat, etc. 

After you’ve been sent a copy of the lease for reading, scrutinise it with great care – even better, ask a solicitor for advice. But make sure you read it as well so that if anything seems unclear, you know what to ask and, if crucial, challenge. Once you’ve purchased the ex-council flat, you are bound by its legal terms. 

And it’s always a good idea to keep a copy of your lease in case you need to refer back to it at some point. 

Next up: 10 clever house floor plans to inspire you.

Buying an ex-council house in metropolitan areas

Buying an ex-council house in metropolitan areas might be a smart move for you if you're looking for cheaper housing near a major city like London. While you might have to settle for a slightly smaller property than you would outside the area, ex-council houses for sale in London have other benefits. You'll still be able to take advantage of lower costs of living and lower initial costs, meaning you can put that money back into the ex-council house and do some renovations.

For example, you may want to redo the bathrooms or change up the kitchen. And here's 16 space-saving, style-sparing small bedrooms to inspire you.

Another benefit? If you're able to buy into a metropolitan area by nabbing lower-cost property like an ex-council house, you may be able to reap the rewards later. Once housing prices go up, you'll make money on the house and maybe even more than expected if you follow through with renovations. City dwellings are always a hot commodity and you're much more likely to sell quickly and for a better price than you would in a remote area.

Still daunted by the process? Consult with a professional about your options if you're thinking about buying an ex-council house for sale.

Are you thinking about an ex-council home purchase now?

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