This Guidance refers to restrictions applied to some ex-council houses in the district of South Hams. This is known as a rural area covenant or restriction or sometimes a section 157 restriction.
Refer to document 'How to apply for consent where a Rural Area Restriction applies'. (link)
A Some of the ex-Council houses in South Hams can only be transferred with the Council's consent. This will only be agreed if the property is being transferred to someone who has lived and/or worked in Devon for the previous three years. If consent is not obtained, the Land Registry will not register the transaction and the sale will be void.
The covenant means Council's consent is needed for houses sold before the dates set out below.
A Houses bought under the 'Right to Buy' Scheme from South Hams District Council before 22 March 1999. For houses sold after these dates please contact LiveWest.
No - it will usually apply to the ones in designated rural areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty or Dartmoor National Park, outside the main towns of Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge and Totnes.
Prospective purchasers must have lived (which means having his/her principal home) and/or worked in Devon throughout the three years immediately before the date of the proposed purchase of the property. If these conditions are met then the Council must give its consent.
On any sale or assignment of lease of a property to which the restriction applies, you must obtain the Council's written consent to the sale. If you don't, the Land Registry will not register the transaction and the sale will be void. Please see 'for details of how to apply for consent.
Yes. The rules are set out in sections 157 to 162 of the Housing Act 1985.
The restriction helps local properties to be available and affordable to local people. This is important in areas like the South Hams where people would like to move to from other parts of the country or invest in a holiday home.
However - there is an exception where the potential purchaser has lived in the South Hams District for a cumulative total of seven years out of the past 20 years.
Yes, and only one person must meet the qualifying conditions. However, the house must be put either in joint names (including the name of the qualifying person) or just in the qualifying person's name.
The Council's consent may not be needed:
Please check with your solicitor.
Any renting or letting of properties subject to the covenant must also be to tenants who have lived and/or worked in Devon for the previous three years.
No. Some houses are subject to other restrictions - ask your solicitor to check.
Make sure your Estate Agent includes the rural area restriction in the Property Particulars - reducing the risk of a sale falling through because the Council will not give its consent. Ask your Solicitor to check your Deeds at an early stage to see what restrictions may apply.
In the case of a leasehold property, this is really a matter for the Housing Company as owner of the freehold, and the request for consent should be made to them in the first instance. However, the restriction at the Land Registry is specifically in the Council's name, and the Registry will insist on specific consent from the Council as well. In practice, if the Housing Company consents to the transfer of a leasehold property, the Council will consent as a matter of course.
It is likely that the restriction will reduce the value of the property. The restriction would have been taken into account in the price paid when the property was first sold, and initial and any subsequent purchasers would have been fully aware of the restriction when they bought the property.