Q: I HAVE viewed a property and I am now considering making an offer. The estate agent has informed me that the property is ex-local authority. What is an ex-local authority property?
A: A local authority property is a property that was built by local councils, to provide residents of the area with low rental, good quality housing. To apply for housing from your local authority, you must register with its housing scheme. If you are deemed to be eligible, you will be added to its waiting list until a suitable home becomes available. Local authority property can include flats, bungalows and houses. How did local authority property become ex-local authority property you may ask? Well, in the 1980s, the Conservative government introduced the Right to Buy Scheme. It allowed tenants of local authority properties to buy their home at a discounted rate compared to its true open market value.
It was possible to buy the property outright or by using the Right to Mortgage Scheme. As with private sector property sales and mortgages, it is possible to buy or enter into a mortgage with another family member, as long as they are also usually resident in the property. Following the right to buy scheme, many properties that used to be local authority are now available on the open market, and are known as ex-local authority properties. It is a good option to consider an ex-local authority property. When choosing a property, one of the most important factors, if not the most important, is location. Logically, the more desirable the area, the more expensive the property located in that area. However, it is possible to find less expensive property in an expensive area, by opting for an ex-local authority property. Properties of this type typically sell for approximately 85 to 90 per cent of the price of a similar private sector property.
Ex-local authority properties are becoming increasingly popular among buy-to-let and first time buyers for a number of reasons. As mentioned, it is often possible to purchase the property lower than had it been a private sector property, however, rental yields are often not dissimilar to property that has always been available privately. It is often the case, particularly where low rise council buildings are concerned, that the quality of the building exceeds that of some private builds. This makes a property desirable for its residents, as walls are thicker meaning less heat is able to escape, plus noise from adjoining buildings is reduced. It also has advantages for the landlord, as he or she will have fewer maintenance responsibilities. On a final note, I would recommend that you check that you are eligible to purchase the property as some ex-local authority properties have restrictive clauses, for example a covenant restricting purchasers to those either currently living/working within the specified county for a minimum of three years of those from within another area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Your legal adviser should be able to advise you further on this.
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