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4 July 2017 | Comment | Article by Richard Jones

Right to buy/acquire in Wales

The Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill was introduced in March 2017 and is currently at stage 1 with the National Assembly for Wales.

There is considerable shortage of affordable housing across the whole of the UK. Cardiff’s Local Housing Market Assessment in 2015 indicated the need for 2,024 additional affordable homes each year for 5 years. Even considering the efforts of registered social landlords and local authorities there is still a shortfall between supply and demand of affordable homes.

It is extremely important to safeguard Wales’ social housing stock. To that end on 10 November 2016 Cardiff Cabinet met to consider a report which set out the need for affordable accommodation of all types across all areas of the city. This also considered the issues around the sale of affordable houses under tenants right to buy/acquire.

The Housing (Wales) Measure 2011 gives local authorities the ability to apply to the Welsh Government to suspend the right to buy/acquire for a period of up to 5 years. Some Local Authorities in Wales such as Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Anglesey and Flintshire have already made the application and successfully suspended the right to buy/acquire.

Cabinet Meeting approval was granted for a public consultation to take place on the proposed suspension of the right to buy/acquire in Cardiff.

Council, housing association tenants and those on the waiting lists for affordable homes were sent a survey as part of the consultation.

Just over 57% of the consultees agreed with the proposal to suspend the right to buy/acquire.

On 16 February 2017 the Cardiff County Council Cabinet met to discuss suspending the right to buy/acquire in all areas of Cardiff. It was agreed an application be made to the Welsh Government to suspend the right across all areas and property types in Cardiff for a period of 5 years.

It is worth noting that any applications to buy/acquire received before the Cabinet Secretary acknowledged receipt of the application would continue to be processed in the usual manner. Any applications received after the date of acceptance of the application will be “paused” until a decision is made by the Cabinet Secretary.

Carl Sargeant, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children accepted Cardiff’s application on 8 June 2017. Any applications under the right to buy/acquire received prior to 8 June 2017 are being dealt with in the usual manner. Any applications received after 8 June 2017 are being “stayed” until the Welsh Cabinet Secretary makes his decision as to the outcome of Cardiff’s application. The Cabinet Secretary is required to grant or reject the application within 6 months of 8 June 2017.

Abolition of Right to Buy/Acquire

Abolition of the Right to Buy and Associated Rights (Wales) Bill was introduced on 13 March 2017. This Bill intends to abolish the right to buy and right to acquire across all of Wales.

The bill is currently at the initial Stage 1 which consists of considering the general principles of the Bill by the Committee and agreement by the National Assembly of Wales of those principles.

It is anticipated that the Bill will receive Royal Assent at the beginning of 2018.  Following Royal Assent it is proposed there will be a 1 year notice period before abolition of the rights, however the rights in respect of new build social housing stock will end 2 months from Royal Assent. This is to encourage landlords to invest in new build housing stock without the risk of losing their investment.

It certainly looks like the future of the Welsh right to buy/acquire is bleak and only a matter of time until the right is either suspended or abolished.

Author bio

Richard joined the commercial property division at Hugh James in January 2020. Richard has more than 10 years’ experience in a wide range of residential property matters including sales, purchases, remortgages, transfers, shared ownership/equity, new builds, help to buy, equity release, and boundary adjustments.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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