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Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

Leasehold enfranchisement
Section 300 – Right to acquire freehold: abolition of low rent test

864.Section 300 amends section 1 and repeals sections 1A(2), 1AA and 4A of the Leasehold Reform 1967 (“the 1967 Act”). These amendments have the effect of removing the low rent test contained in Part 1 of the 1967 Act as a means of determining eligibility for enfranchisement in relation to shared ownership houses.

865.The low rent test will remain for some purposes, for example, in determining the basis for valuing the freehold and when the claim is for a lease extension.

866.The test will continue to apply in respect of existing leases.

Section 301 - Shared ownership leases: protection for certain leases

867.Schedule 4A to the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 provides for the exclusion of certain shared ownership leases of houses from the operation of Part 1 (the enfranchisement provisions) of that Act. Section 301 inserts paragraph 3A into Schedule 4A. Paragraph 3A sets out the conditions that must be satisfied in order for a shared ownership lease granted by a landlord, other than a housing association, to be excluded from the operation of Part 1.

868.The conditions are similar to those that apply in relation to shared ownership leases granted by housing associations, but additionally the appropriate national authority (being the Secretary of State in England, and the Welsh Ministers in Wales) may prescribe other conditions that must be satisfied or prescribe exemptions.

869.The aim is to encourage more shared ownership housing to be made available, by giving non-housing association providers of such accommodation the same protection against the risk of enfranchisement as is afforded to housing associations. In particular, the provisions can be used to prevent a tenant from acquiring the right to enfranchise before the tenant has acquired 100% of the equitable interest in the house.

870.The amendment will not apply to leases granted prior to the commencement of the section.

Section 302 - Shared ownership leases: protection for hard to replace houses

871.Section 302 inserts paragraph 4A into Schedule 4A to the 1967 Act. The effect of paragraph 4A is that shared ownership leases granted by any provider that are not excluded from the operation of Part 1 of the Act by virtue of either paragraph 3 or 3A of Schedule 4A (because they do not comply with the conditions set out in either of those paragraphs) will nevertheless be excluded from the operation of Part 1 if they are situated within an area that is designated as a protected area and if they satisfy all the other requirements set out in paragraph 4A. The appropriate national authority (i.e. the Secretary of State in England, and the Welsh Ministers in Wales) has power to prescribe additional conditions that must be satisfied.

872.The appropriate national authority is also given power under paragraph 4A to designate an area as a protected area where it considers it is appropriate to do so to support the provision in the area of houses, or types of houses, which are available for occupation in accordance with shared ownership arrangements. The appropriate national authority must publish the criteria which will be taken into account by it in deciding whether to designate an area as a protected area, and must consult those likely to be affected by the designation.

873.Subject to the conditions in paragraph 4A being satisfied, this provision will allow any provider of shared ownership housing to grant leases that restrict the percentage share of the house that the tenant may acquire, and may also prevent the tenant from acquiring the freehold interest, if the house is in an area that has been designated as a protected area.

874.This section is intended to help retain shared ownership properties as affordable housing for future purchasers in areas where such housing would be hard to replace. It is also intended to help to make land available for affordable housing by giving landowners greater assurance that the properties will be retained as affordable housing for future purchasers.

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