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Local Authorities (Property Disposal)

Volume 81: debated on Wednesday 19 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to give local authorities powers to enable them to dispose of their rundown estates or blocks of flats for redevelopment.

The Government wish to encourage partnership schemes of this kind and have today launched the urban housing renewal unit to assist local authorities to develop them and other initiatives to improve conditions on rundown estates. I believe that it would help authorities if powers of this kind were available to them and my right hon. Friend hopes to bring forward proposals for legislation.Under section 34 of the Housing Act 1980 a local authority may seek possession of a dwelling let under a secure tenancy on the ground that it intends to redevelop the dwelling itself (ground 8 of schedule 4 to the 1980 Act). Before the court makes an order for possession it must be satisfied that suitable alternative accommodation will be available to displaced tenants, and the authority may make home-loss payments.However, local authorities wishing to sell a tenanted dwelling to private developers so that the property could be renovated and brought back into use as housing under low-cost home ownership initiatives have experienced difficulties. In these circumstances, local authorities have no power either to obtain possession of the property, or to offer compensatory payments to tenants.We hope to legislate when a suitable opportunity arises to extend the grounds for possession in schedule 4 to the 1980 Act to allow local authorities to seek possession, in circumstances approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment, on the ground that they intend to sell the dwellings to the private sector for renovation and re-use as housing. As under the existing ground 8, tenants displaced under the proposed new ground would be entitled to be offered suitable alternative accommodation and to receive home-loss payments.We will be consulting local authority associations and others about our proposals shortly.