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This advice is for people who want to buy, sell or rent a property with a s157 restriction.
The s157 restriction applies to many properties sold under the Right to Buy by North Norfolk District Council before March 2006.
The s157 restriction requires that a new owner must have previously lived or worked in Norfolk for three years before their purchase.
In the case of joint purchasers only one of the purchasers needs to have lived or worked in Norfolk for three years before their purchase.
The s157 restriction also applies if the owner lets the property. The tenants must have previously lived or worked in Norfolk for the three years before starting their tenancy.
The s157 restriction provides a pool of properties available for purchasers (and tenants) who have connections through residence or work to Norfolk. The s157 restriction should not prevent a property owner from selling or letting their property.
Properties likely to have a s157 restriction
A s157 restriction applies to individual properties. If you are unsure whether your property has a s157 restriction you should seek legal advice.
In most cases the restriction only applies to properties in the rural parts of North Norfolk and to properties which fall within one of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Selling a property with a Section 157 Restriction
If you are selling a property with a section 157 restriction you must make your estate agent aware of the restriction. Your agent should include information about the section 157 restriction when they advertise the property for sale.
Once you have agreed a sale it is the responsibility of the purchaser’s solicitor to obtain the Council’s permission for the buyers to proceed with their purchase.
If the purchaser have not lived or worked in Norfolk for the last three years the purchaser will need to apply for a waiver. Refer to the section on making an application to waive the restriction below.
Guidance for Estate Agents and Letting Agents
If you are advertising a property for sale that is subject to a s157 restriction, we advise you to make clear in any sales literature that the purchaser is required to have lived or worked in Norfolk for at least three years at the date of purchase. The s157 covenant on the property requires Council approval of a prospective purchaser. By providing clear information in your advertising, you reduce the risk of disappointment and save wasted time and costs.
As outlined below, it is only in exceptional circumstances that the Council will consider a temporary waiver of a s157 restriction.
A purchaser of a property subject to a s157 restriction, is required by the Council to sign an undertaking to use the property as their principal home, or to let it as a principal home to someone who meets the s157 restriction criteria (see below). This means that a property with a s157 restriction can never be used as a second or holiday home.
Section 157 restrictions apply to lettings as well. A prospective tenant must have lived or worked in Norfolk for three years at the tenancy start date.
Guidance for Purchaser’s Solicitor
The Council will approve the purchase if the purchaser can show they have lived and/or worked in Norfolk for the three years to the date of purchase. To process the approval the Council requires:
- Your undertaking to pay the Council’s legal fees, estimated at £200 plus VAT.
- Official copy register entries and title plan.
- Copy of the original right to buy conveyance.
- Full names and address of the proposed purchaser together with evidence to show the purchaser has lived and/or worked in Norfolk for the last three years. This evidence must cover the full three years up to the current date with no gaps.
- Confirmation that the purchaser intends to live in the property, or
- If the purchaser intends to let the property the purchaser must sign an undertaking to let to people who will meet the s157 restriction.
Contact the Council’s legal team, Eastlaw on 01263 516057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Making an application to waive the restriction
The Council will not remove a s157 restriction. In exceptional circumstances the Council will consider requests to waive the restriction. If granted this will allow the owner to sell or let the property to a person who does not meet the terms of the restriction.
The Council will consider applications to waive the restriction in two situations:
- Personal circumstances for purchasers or prospective tenants who have not lived or worked in Norfolk for the last three years, but instead can show strong connections through former residence or employment.
- For owners unable to sell or let their home at a price that takes account of the s157 restriction. We will require evidence that the owner has marketed the property for sale or rent for at least 12 months.
Guidance on making an application to waive the restriction
The Council will consider applications from owners or potential owners who want the Council to waive the s157 restriction.
The owner or potential owner must make their application in writing and provide the following:
- Information about the property including the proposed sales price or rent. The owner can provide this information via a link to a sales or lettings website which is currently marketing the property.
- Full address of the property.
- Confirmation of whether or not the owner has accepted an offer.
- The names of the intended purchaser or tenant.
- Confirmation that that the purchaser or tenant will live in the property as their main or principal home if the Council waive the restriction.
Personal circumstances requests
We require additional information about the proposed purchaser or tenant:
- Details of all connections to Norfolk by residence or employment. Provide the dates (month and year) of residence or employment in Norfolk and the location of the residence or employment.
The Council will consider the length of residence or paid employment to Norfolk. The Council is unable to take other criteria, such as the type of employment or wider benefits of the potential purchaser to the community, or family connections.
For personal circumstances requests the potential purchaser must make the request to waive the restriction.
For rented property the owner should make the request. The owner must have the consent of their prospective tenant to make the request.
Requests from owners who are unable to sell or let
The Council will assess whether or not the owner has marketed the property at a price which reflects the restriction. The Council will therefore commission an independent valuation of the property. The Council requires:
- The owner to pay the cost of the valuation.
- Evidence that the owner has marketed the property for at least 12 months and the property has not been sold or let.
The Council will waive the s157 restriction if the valuation and supporting evidence shows that the owner has
- marketed the property for at least 12 months, and
- the price reflects the s157 restriction.
The Council requires the following additional information:
- Confirmation from the sales or letting agent of when marketing started.
- Details of the current asking price or rental fee.
- The date of any changes to the asking price or rental fee and the details of the changes.
The Council will obtain a quotation for the valuation. The Council will only proceed with the valuation if the owner agrees to pay the cost of the valuation.
In most cases it is the owner who requests the Council to waive the restriction. You can make an application if you are a potential purchaser or tenant but must provide the council with a copy of the written consent of the owner for you to make the application.
How to apply
You can make your request for the restriction to be waived to the Housing Strategy and Delivery Manager by email at Nicky.Debbage@north-norfolk.gov.uk or Graham.Connolly@north-norfolk.gov.uk or by writing to:
Housing Strategy and Delivery Manager
North Norfolk District Council
Once the Council has all the necessary information the decisions will be made with the Housing Portfolio Holder.
Please note that in some cases current or previous services in the regular or reserve forces can be taken into account. For further information, contact Nicky Debbage on 01263 516027 or Graham Connolly 01263 516282.
Please note if the Council decides to waive the restriction on a property to allow the disposal of that property to a purchaser or tenant who does not meet the requirements of the Section 157 restriction, the restriction will remain on the property and will apply to all future disposals (by sale or let).