Regulator reminds social housing providers of rule changes

An alert from the Charity Commission says that from today non-exempt registered housing providers that are charities are subject to parts of the Charities Act covering the disposal of land

The Charity Commission has issued an alert that reminds social housing providers about changes in the rules regarding disposals of land and mortgages.

The alert, issued yesterday, says that non-exempt registered housing providers that are charities are now subject to sections 117 to 121 and 124 of the Charities Act 2011, which cover the disposal of land and when charities needs to obtain orders from a court or from the commission.

The changes, which took effect yesterday, include the repeal of the requirement for registered housing providers that are registered charities to get consent from the Homes and Communities Agency when disposing of land and mortgages.

Instead, non-exempt charitable housing providers are able to dispose of land if they meet certain legal requirements, such as having a survey and valuation of the land, advertising the disposal and ensuring the terms for the disposal are the best possible.

If these legal requirements are not met, or in certain cases such as when the land is disposed of with a person connected with the charity, the charity will still need to get consent.

The changes do not apply to exempt charities, and the commission is writing to all of the charities affected.

David Holdsworth, chief operating officer of the Charity Commission, said: "This legal framework supports trustees in making responsible and well-informed decisions about charity property, and provides safeguards to deal with conflicts of interest and protect the interests of charity beneficiaries.

"Self-certification is not onerous and involves taking appropriate professional advice. These are, on the whole, basic steps that you would expect responsible charity trustees to be taking. We have clear guidance that the trustees of charities affected by these changes should consider further."

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