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Designated Rural Area Restrictive Covenants S157

S157 Notices are Restrictive Covenants placed on rural ex-council houses. These houses can only be purchased by someone who has either lived or worked in Devon for the three years prior to purchase.

This covenant is sometimes known as the "Devon rule" or "Devon covenant."

Restrictive Covenants 

Some ex-Council houses can only be transferred with the Council's consent. 

Which houses does this apply to?

  • Houses which were bought from the Council (under the 'Right to Buy' scheme) before 22 March 1999.
  • On that date the Council sold all its houses to what is now LiveWest. In the case of houses bought from that Company after 22 March 1999, you or your Solicitor should contact LiveWest to find out what restrictions apply. 
  • Not all former council houses in South Hams have this restriction - it will usually apply to houses in the designated rural areas outside the towns of Dartmouth, Kingsbridge, Ivybridge, and Totnes.
  • Properties sold by the Council prior to 1985 will not have a Section 157 restrictive covenant. Please check with your solicitor.

Information for Estate Agents

  • When a former Council house is marketed, it's essential that particulars include details of any restrictions as to who can buy the property. This reduces the risk of a sale falling through because the Council will not give its consent. 
  • The vendor's solicitor should examine the Deeds at an early stage, to identify any relevant restrictions.

Information for Solicitors and Conveyancers

What does the covenant say?

  • On any sale of a property affected by the restriction the prospective purchaser must apply to the Council for written consent to the sale. If the Council does not consent, the Land Registry will not register the transaction and the sale will be void.
  • The Council will not give consent unless the prospective purchaser can prove that he or she has lived (which means having had his or her principal home) and/or worked in Devon throughout the three years immediately prior to the date of the proposed purchase of the property.
  • If these conditions are satisfied, the Council must give consent.

How to apply for consent

  • For homes originally sold by the Council after 22 March 1999, contact LiveWest. 
  • For homes sold by the Council before 22 February 1999, you will need consent from South Hams District Council.
  • You can download the Statutory Declaration here (PDF) [364KB] (opens new window)
  • You must also supply two original documents of supporting evidence to prove you have lived and/or worked in Devon continuously for the past three years OR you have lived in the South Hams District for a cumulative total of 7 years out of the past 20 years.

Please read How to apply for consent where a Rural Area Restriction applies, and refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more information. 

If you have any questions, please contact  

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