Snoopers’ Charter – people urged to inform about ‘illegal lettings’
A local authority has written to purchasers of former council houses and apartments warning them against illegally letting them out – and it’s set up a hotline for people to report those breaking the rules.
Cornwall Council says people who bought properties under Right to Buy may face legal restrictions on what they can do with their properties.
Authority spokesman Andrew Mitchell says: “Council houses were built with public money to provide affordable homes for local people. It’s not right that they should then be used to make a profit or sold on to people who do not have a local connection to Cornwall, especially as the discount on the purchase price under Right to Buy is significant and the council will not have received enough from the sale to be able to build a replacement home.”
Homes bought under the government’s decades-old RTB scheme usually have a legal restriction on them which means that the owner should not be letting them as holiday lets, or letting them to students. or making significant alterations to their property.
In rural areas there may also be restrictions on who the property can be bought by or rented to in the future. The authority says in some cases it may be that the person who has bought a former council house is not fully aware that restrictions may still be in force.
Therefore the council is giving long-standing owners a period of grace of one year to put right any breaches.
However, anyone who has bought a property from May 1 – that’s tomorrow – will be expected to abide by the restrictions from day one.
The council says it can take legal action against anyone who is not abiding by the legal restrictions and will apply for a court injunction requiring that they put right whatever they have done in breach of the restriction.
Mitchell adds: “We also have a duty of care to our residents and the communities they live in. If a former council owned home is bought under BTR scheme but is then let out as holiday accommodation or as a student let, this can have a significant impact on neighbouring residents and the local community.”
The council is also setting up a confidential fraud line, encouraging people to report any RTB property they suspect as being let out against the rules. It describes this as “our 24 hour free-phone, confidential fraud hotline” and the number is 0800 7316125.