Under the new Right to Buy regime, it seems that certain groups of housing association tenants can be denied the opportunity to buy the home they rent. Instead, they can be offered an alternative home or even the option to transfer their discount to a market home. Circumstances where such exemptions can be made will include:
- Properties in rural locations as defined by Section 17 of the Housing Act 1996. This would generally mean properties in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and places that have been designated as rural by the Government (places with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants per hectare).
- Properties held in a Community Land Trust.
The first exemption reflects those rural parishes where housing association tenants are already denied the right to acquire their homes, and where the requirement to retain homes as affordable is very often enshrined in Section 106 Agreements on exception sites. This group includes most of the locations in the Wessex area where CLTs have worked with housing association partners; the only exceptions being the ‘urban’ parishes of Lyme Regis, Northam and Bridport.
However, urban parishes – along with all the rural ones – are included in the second exemption – ‘properties held in a CLT’. This is a new category and one that represents a positive outcome to all our campaigning; for the first time, CLT-held homes per se will be recognised as worthy of exemption from the Right to Buy. Quite how this will translate into new regulation remains to be seen although we would like to see a clear definition of ‘properties held in a Community Land Trust’. The National CLT Network has already commissioned and promoted the following definition which, in item (b), incorporates most schemes in the Wessex area:
‘(a) the landlord is a community land trust or (b) the landlord is not such a community land trust but any superior lease or the freehold is held by a community land trust. In this definition community land trust means a community land trust within the meaning of s.79 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008′.
We also aim to ensure that both new regulation and the terms of CLT/HA leases capture the scope for CLT homes to be exempt from the Right to Buy.