The right of first refusal rules affect properties subject to a Right to Buy application that was made on or after 18 January 2005.
Home owners wanting to sell or dispose of a property that has been purchased through the Right to Buy have a legal obligation to offer us (the council) the opportunity to buy the property back at full market value for a period of 10 years after the sale.
Some property sales or disposals are exempt from the right of first refusal; such as an ownership transfer between family members or due to a will. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on transfers that are "non relevant" or "exempt" under sections 156A, 159 and 160 of the Housing Act 1985.
When we have a right of first refusal it does not mean that we will proceed with the purchase, however we must be offered the opportunity to do so. The decision on whether or not to proceed will depend on our requirements for particular property types at the time, the location of the property and the availability of funding.
Please remember that in all cases the new owners will be unable to register their ownership with the Land Registry unless formal confirmation that the restrictions have been complied with has been obtained from the council. If you are thinking of selling or disposing of your property in any way, it is important that you or your solicitor send us a formal offer of first refusal (or claim an exemption) as one of your first steps, rather than leaving this until you have already made other arrangements.
If you or your solicitor need to make an offer of first refusal please download this application form.
We aim to acknowledge your offer within 10 days. You will be advised of our decision whether to accept or reject your offer up to 8 weeks after receipt of your application.
If we decide to accept your offer
If we decide to accept your offer we must issue a formal acceptance notice letting you know that we wish to accept the offer ourselves (or alternatively that we are nominating another landlord approved under the government's regulations to accept the offer in our place).
We will only tell you that we have nominated to another landlord if they have given us a written commitment that they want to be nominated. Please remember that until a binding contract has been entered into, acceptance of your offer by us, or a landlord nominated by us, does not entitle you to insist on a purchase being carried out.
If we decide to reject your offer
If we decide to reject your offer we must serve a formal rejection notice as soon as we have made our decision. You may then dispose of the property as you wish during the 12 month period commencing from the day after we issue our notice.
Repayment of the right to buy discount
Please remember that our decision on whether or not to purchase your property does not affect your liability to repay discount under the right to buy scheme if it is sold within 5 years of the original right to buy sale.
Failure to issue an acceptance or a rejection notice within 8 weeks
If we fail to issue either an acceptance or a rejection notice within 8 weeks of the date of receipt of your offer you may dispose of the property as you wish during the 12 month period commencing the day after the end of the 8 week period.
Re-offering the property to us again in future
If you do not actually dispose of the property during the 12 month period, and then later wish to dispose of the property, you will then need to re-offer the right of first refusal to us.
If you do dispose of the property during the 12 month period, and the new owner later wishes to dispose of the property within ten years of the original right to buy sale, then the new owner will have to offer the property back to us.
Time limits for completing the purchase
If we, or a nominated landlord, accept your offer, there are time limits for entering into a binding contract with you to purchase the property.
The time limit is the latest date from either of these alternatives:
- the binding contract should be entered into within 12 weeks of us issuing the acceptance notice.
- the binding contract should be entered into no later than 4 weeks after the date of receipt by us or a nominated landlord of written notification from you that you are ready to complete.
The time limits exclude the time taken during an appeal by either party to the District Valuer to decide the valuation of the property.
If these time limits are not complied with by us or a nominated landlord, you may dispose of the property as you wish, and you will not need to offer the property back to us again. However, if a new owner wishes to dispose of the property within ten years of the original right to buy sale, they will have to offer the property back to us.
If we do not buy your property back and you intend on selling it to another party, the solicitor involved in the sale should liaise with our legal department after the sale is complete. The solicitor will need to confirm the completion date of the sale and the full names of the new purchasers. If a discount repayment is required, our legal team will also need to be notified of the resale price and how much repayment will need to be made. We will then be able to issue the necessary certification for the Land Registry so that the new owners can register their purchase.