Right To Buy Guidance Note
Former Tenants of the Council who purchased their properties under the “Right to Buy” legislation need to be aware that, if they applied to purchase their property on or after 18 January 2005 and wish to sell their property having owned it for less than 10 years they will need to notify the Council.
Failure to notify the Council at an early stage could cause delays in the sale process and the Council will not be responsible for any such delays.
This note is an overview of the appropriate Regulations only and owners are strongly advised to obtain independent legal advice as soon as possible before proceeding with a sale of their property.
The Housing (Right of First Refusal) (England) Regulations 2005, requires such properties to be offered back to the Council under the Right of First Refusal. This should be done before seeking to sell on the open market. Failure to notify the Council promptly could cause delays in the sale process and the Council will not be responsible for any such delays.
The Regulations can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk.
One of the most frequently asked questions with which the Council is required to deal relates to the Offer Notice which must be served by the owner. There is no standard printed Form of Notice available, but Regulation 12 in the 2005 Regulations sets out what information is required. In short, the notice needs to be in writing, stating that the owner wishes to dispose of the property and stating its full postal address. The notice must point out that there is a covenant in the title deeds requiring the owner to first offer the property to the Council. The owner must also specify whether the dwelling is a house, flat, or maisonette, state the number of bedrooms, give details of any improvements or structural changes made since the date of purchase and give to the Council the address at which it will be able to serve notices on the owner.
From the date on which it receives a valid offer notice the Council has eight weeks in which to decide whether or not it wishes to accept the offer. Alternatively, the Council may nominate a registered social Landlord or similar to accept the offer of first refusal.
If the Council has not accepted the offer within the eight weeks’ period specified, or has rejected the offer within that time period then the owner is entitled to dispose of the property as they wish. However, if the owner still retains an interest in the property after a year has elapsed, ie if the sale does not proceed, then the Council must again be offered “first refusal”.
If the Council decides to accept the offer of first refusal then there are further time constraints imposed on the Council as to when it must conclude the transaction. However, by that stage the owner will almost certainly have instructed a solicitor to complete the transaction.
The Regulations also contain provisions for dealing with any differences of opinion between the owner and the Council as to the value of the Property, the matter being referred if necessary to the District Valuer for adjudication.