Reprieve for housing association cost sharing groups?
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Once the right to buy has been admitted, one of the key documents in the right to buy process is the landlord’s offer notice, issued under section 125 of the Housing Act 1985. Although errors or omissions in the initial offer notice are resolvable under section 177, they can still cause RPs unnecessary headaches, so it is important to ensure that the details contained in the notice are accurate.
Who at the property can share in the right to buy is a common query RPs raise when tenants begin to explore the possibility of buying their home.
The right to buy belongs to all joint tenants and the right can be exercised by one or more of them as they may agree between themselves, provided that at least one of the tenants to whom the right belongs lives at the property as their principal or only home.
Up to three members of the tenant’s family, who are not joint tenants but who occupy the dwelling-house as their principal or only home are also able to join in the right to buy. The right to buy can be shared only if:
In addition to spouses and civil partners, family members include parents, grandparents, children siblings, uncles and aunts, and nephews and nieces.
Another query commonly raised by RPs and tenants alike is what interest the tenants will acquire – leasehold or freehold? The way to ascertain what interest a tenant is able to acquire is to look at the type of property they currently live in and the landlord’s title to the property.
Section 138 of the Housing Act provides clarity regarding this:
Service charges, for tenants of both flats and houses can be a contentious subject. Although figures in the offer notice are generally estimated, the important factor is that they are included. By including estimated figures, tenants are aware from the start that service charges will be payable, which in turn helps prevent disputes between RPs and former tenants post-completion.
Ensuring tenants are eligible for what is about to be offered may seem like an obvious, early-stage in the process. However, the importance of checking tenants meet the relevant criteria should not be underestimated.
Making sure that all tenants’ applications and details correlate with the relevant criteria can help avoid the awkwardness and unnecessary headache of having to withdraw a tenant’s offer following admission of a right to buy application, when the right did not exist in the first place.
One potential solution that may iron out these issues is a right to buy information pack, provided to tenants by RPs and containing the information they need about the right to buy and the right to buy process before they submit an application. This would provide tenants with a greater understanding as to what is involved, should they start an application. Having a clear information pack would also likely reduce the number of queries raised by tenants regarding the process, thus enabling RPs to operate more efficiently.
For more information regarding right to buy offer notices, advice on the right to buy process in general, or assistance in providing an information pack for tenants, contact Joshua via email at the following address: Joshua.email@example.com
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