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Housing: Low Incomes

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers are available to local authorities to apply conditions to ensure that homes granted planning consent as affordable are retained within the affordable sector in perpetuity; and if she will take steps to ensure that local authorities use the powers available. (203175)

[holding answer 1 May 2008]: There are a number of methods by which homes that are sold can be retained in the social housing sector.

Local authorities which sell under the Right to Buy scheme properties located in

National Parks;

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and

40 areas designated by the Secretary of State as ‘rural’ for RTB purposes,

may impose covenants restricting the resale of these properties to people who have lived or worked locally for at least three years. ‘Locally’ means within a ‘region’ designated by the Secretary of State for this purpose. Alternatively, they may require that if the owners wish to resell such properties, they must first offer them back to the local authority.

In order to retain social rented properties in areas where replacement is difficult, the Right to Acquire scheme, under which housing association tenants may buy their rented homes at a discount, does not apply in small rural settlements.

In addition, providers have a right of first refusal to buy back properties sold under the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire schemes if they are resold within 10 years if it is essential to retain the homes for social rent.

Measures in the Housing and Regeneration Bill, which completed its second reading in the House of Lords on 28 April, will enable landlords of shared ownership houses to restrict the equity share that shared owners can buy in areas where replacement is difficult, thereby retaining the property within the affordable housing sector for future purchasers where it is essential to do so.