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Selling former council houses in South Oxfordshire

Restrictions under s.157 of the Housing Act 1985 affecting residential properties in areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) (National Landscapes) within South Oxfordshire.

All former council houses sold by South Oxfordshire District Council under the ‘right to buy’ legislation within the North Wessex Downs AONB (National Landscapes) and the Chilterns AONB (National Landscapes) contain a restrictive covenant made pursuant to either Section 19 of the Housing Act 1980 or Section 157 of the Housing Act 1985.

The original purpose of the restriction was to stop former council-owned properties being acquired as second or holiday homes in an attempt to keep them available for local people, as far as that was possible.

The registered title to the property will contain in the proprietorship register a restriction on disposal.  This means that without the written consent of South Oxfordshire District Council, a proprietor is unable to dispose of a former council house within the AONBs and the disposal cannot be registered at the Land Registry.

The council’s policy on s157 restrictions

Effective from 12 December 2016

The council made a decision to change its policy so that the restrictions can be removed on application.  This means that residents will no longer be affected by them.  However, a restriction can be removed only by the home owner making an application to the Land Registry.  The home owner will need a letter of consent from the council consenting to the removal of the restriction.  The home owner, or their solicitor, will then be required to make an application to the Land Registry using its forms and processes.  Home owners can ask the council for a letter of consent at any time, but it would normally be done when the house is sold to enable registration of the new owner.

Application for consent

An application for consent to remove the restriction made under section 157 of the Housing Act 1985 (formerly section 19 of the Housing Act 1980) can be made by the seller.  The council aims to respond to applications submitted with the correct form and supporting documents within ten working days of receiving them.  

To apply for consent, please complete this e-form.  You will be required to scan and upload the following documents:

  • Copy of the conveyance/transfer imposing the restriction
  • Official copy of register of title of the property affected by the restriction
  • Official copy of the title plan of the property affected by the restriction

We will charge you a processing fee of £126.  Payment is required online when making the application.  Please also note that the Land Registry currently charges a fee for removal of a restriction.  Further information on its fees can be found on the Land Registry website.

Properties sold directly by Soha housing

Applications should only be made to the council if the former local authority house in question was sold by it prior to the large scale transfer to Soha Housing on 7 July 1997. After this date, properties were sold by Soha Housing and any queries should be directed directly to them by email to

Contact us - Property team

01235 422660
(Text phone users add 18001 before dialing)

South Oxfordshire District Council
Abbey House
Abbey Close
OX14 3JE