The Right to Buy

In order to provide CLTs with the clarity and certainty it needs to plan securely for the future, we also asking the Governement to set out a full exemption for community-led housing groups from the Right to Buy. 

The voluntary Right to Buy still threatens the security and future sustainability of Community Land Trusts, endangering their aim to create genuinely affordable housing. Landowners often sell plots to CLTs that wouldn’t normally come to market, and the Right to Buy is putting them off, reducing housing supply. 

The renewed pledge in the Conservative Party’s 2017 Manifesto to extend the Right to Buy has intensified the considerable anxiety amongst CLTs and their landowner partnersThe Government has a manifesto commitment to give tenants in housing association (Registered Provider) homes the Right to Buy their property.

Background and further details:

Many CLTs are not registered as a Registered Provider with the Homes and Communities Agency and so they are not at risk of being effected by the Right to Buy. However, eight CLTs are Registered Providers, three are in the process of registering and at least another 45 are working in partnership with housing associations and have granted the association leases over their land.

If the Right to Buy was to be applied to CLTs, it would go against their basic aim of keeping homes affordable in perpetuity, would have a significant impact on the current supply of CLT homes and would have a severely dampening effect on the future growth of the CLT movement. 

We have therefore been campaigning hard to make CLTs exempt from the Right to Buy and 70 MPs were engaged by their local CLT on the campaign. For an update on this work see below.

We are also part of the wider community-led housing movement and therefore support the case for an exemption for all forms of rental community-led housing. A statutory definition of community-led housing is needed on the face of the Housing Bill. 

The latest news on our Right to Buy campaign - updated November 2016.

In September 2015 the Government and the National Housing Federation, on behalf of housing associations, entered into an agreement to extend the Right to Buy to housing associations on a voluntary basis. An ‘Offer to extend Right to Buy discounts to housing association tenants’ was published on 24th September 2015. This meant that the Right to Buy would not be taken forward through legislation but would be implemented voluntarily.

Following our campaigning efforts, the voluntary agreement sets out that in certain circumstances housing associations can exercise discretion to decline a sale, including:

  • Properties held in a Community Land Trust.
  • 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).

The Government subsequently confirmed the discretion for CLTs ‘on record’ when we promoted an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill. Baroness Williams of Trafford stated the following on 8th March 2016 in Committee Stage of the Bill in the House of Lords: "In giving other examples of where housing associations may exercise discretion over sales....where properties are held in a community land trust..." (Hansard, 8th March 2016, Column 1228). For the full record of the debate click here.

On 5th July 2016 the former Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, wrote to us confirming that there is an 'expectation' that housing associations will exercise that discretion. Download the letter at the bottom of the page.  

However, we are concerned that this still doesn't give the sector the clarity and certainty it needs to plan securely for the future. We are therefore calling on the Minister to make a statement on record that CLTs are excluded from the Voluntary Right to Buy. 

In parallel, we have been liaising with the National Housing Federation on the implementation of the voluntary agreement to ensure the strongest possible protection for CLTs. 

In addition, Wessex CLT Protect are working on a clause to protect the homes from the Voluntary Right to Buy. Do get in touch with Steve Watson from Wessex CLT Project here if you would like to know more.