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Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

Schedule 14 – Disposals of dwelling-houses by local authorities

1006.Schedule 14 amends certain provisions of the Housing Act 1985, the Housing Act 1988, the Housing Act 1996, and repeals and amends provisions of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. The provisions concern the requirement for consent from the Secretary of State to large scale disposals of housing by local authorities. The intention of the amendments is to remove the requirement that local authorities must apply to the Secretary of State annually to be included in a large scale disposals programme for a particular financial year. The amendments do, however, retain the requirement for Secretary of State consent and provide that the Secretary of State may consider the exchequer costs of such disposals before consent is granted. Notwithstanding removal of provisions concerning the large scale disposals programme, English local authorities will be expected to engage with the HCA at an early stage when considering a large scale disposal.

1007.Paragraph 1(2) amends section 34 of the Housing Act 1985, which applies to the grant of the Secretary of State’s consent under section 32 or 33 of the Housing Act 1985 for the disposal of land held for housing purposes by a local authority.

1008.Paragraph 1(2)(b) amends section 34 to provide that, when considering whether to grant consent, the appropriate national body (i.e. the Secretary of State, for England and the Welsh Ministers, for Wales) may, in the case of a large scale disposal, have regard to its estimate of the exchequer costs of such a disposal.

1009.Paragraph 1(2)(c) adds the provision that the appropriate national body may make assumptions as to what the exchequer costs might be and defines “dwelling-house”, “exchequer costs”, “housing subsidies”, “large scale disposal”, “long lease”, “relevant period”, and “subsidiary” for the purpose of those cost calculations. The amendment also gives the appropriate national body the power by order to change the number of dwelling-houses in the definition of “large-scale disposal”. The amendment also defines “a dwelling-house to be disregarded”, “associates”, and how the description of an authority might be framed for the purposes of the section.

1010.Paragraph 1(3) makes identical amendments to section 43 of the Housing Act 1985 in relation to large scale disposals. Section 43 relates to the appropriate national body’s powers to grant consent to a local authority to dispose of a house belonging to the local authority which fulfils certain conditions but is not held for housing purposes and is therefore not subject to consent under sections 32, 33 and 34 of the Housing Act 1985.

1011.Paragraph 2 makes consequential amendments to section 133(3) of the Housing Act 1988, which requires the consent of the appropriate national body before the first onward disposal of tenanted homes acquired after consent was given under either section 34 or 43 of the Housing Act 1985. This amendment seeks to preserve the status quo by ensuring the amendments to sections 34 or 43 do not apply. Section 133 requires that, before granting consent, the Secretary of State shall take into account such matters considered when granting the original consent under section 34 or 43. This amendment does not change the position. The Secretary of State is not required to consider the exchequer costs of a further disposal. This is because a further disposal should have no impact on exchequer costs. If a local authority is the onward transferor, and so the transfer will effectively be the first transfer away from local authority ownership, the Secretary of State will be required to give consent under section 32 or 43 of the Housing Act 1985 and so will be considering the exchequer costs in any event.

1012.Paragraph 3(2) repeals section 135 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. Section 135 requires that a local authority cannot dispose of more than 499 dwelling-houses (i.e. a large scale disposal) within a particular period without having first been accepted on to an annual disposals programme run by the Secretary of State.

1013.Paragraph 3(3) amends section 136 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 to retain definitions included in section 135, including an expanded definition of “subsidiary”, which would otherwise be repealed.

1014.Paragraph 3(4) repeals certain transitional provisions relating to section 135 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, which are now redundant.

1015.Paragraph 4 amends the definitions of “social landlords” and “registered bodies” in section 51(2)(b), paragraph 5(1)(b) of Part 2 and paragraph 28(1)(b) of Part 4 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1996. Those definitions included a body which had been the recipient of a large scale disposal of property by a local authority under section 135 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993. This amendment ensures that the definitions capture organisations that in the past had inherited a large number of homes as a consequence of the (to be repealed) section 135 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, and, also, organisations that will in the future inherit such homes further to (amended) sections 34 and 43 of the Housing Act 1985.

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