National Acquisition Programme: information

Information on the National Acquisition Programme

The role of local authorities and registered social landlords

Local Housing Strategies and Strategic Housing Investment Plans

As the statutory housing authority and in line with the planning, prioritisation and delivery of the broader Affordable Housing Supply Programme, local authorities have a key role to play in the implementation of the National Acquisition Programme. Local authorities are required to prepare Local Housing Strategies setting out local housing requirements and strategic housing investment priorities. This work should be informed by a Housing Need and Demand Assessment and consideration given to the level and type of housing to be delivered over the period, alongside other data and local knowledge, to meet identified housing requirements.  Strategic Housing Investment Plans are expected to set out each local authority’s strategic investment priorities for housing over a five-year period aligned with the priorities and outcomes set out in their Local Housing Strategy. Specifically, they set out priority projects to be delivered to meet identified requirements including in terms of house size, for example, the needs of larger families, and location to ensure delivery in the areas required, including through the targeted purchase of appropriate “off the shelf” properties.

The delivery of affordable homes, through both new build and acquisitions, is integral to our objectives of tackling poverty and inequality, ending homelessness, creating and supporting jobs, meeting energy efficiency and decarbonisation aims and creating connected, cohesive communities. Our increased ambition to deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 – with at least 70 per cent for social rent and 10 per cent in our rural and island communities – is crucial to delivering on those objectives and the acquisition of existing stock has a key role to play within the programme.

When considering the role that the acquisition of existing homes may play in meeting local housing requirements, we would expect local authorities to give careful consideration to the impact that such interventions may have on the broader housing market and to take this forward at a scale and pace to mitigate any unintended market consequences.

Local authority acquisition policies and contact details

While many local authorities already have an acquisition policy in place which outlines their strategic approach to supporting the purchases of existing properties, we would encourage all local authorities to consider their policy position on acquisitions and develop an acquisition policy, where required. Where this is in place, each local authority should publish their acquisition policy on their website which, where relevant, should align with their housing asset management strategies.

It is critical that potential sellers have a clear route to bring forward opportunities for consideration in line with individual local authority acquisition policies. Local authorities should, therefore, each identify a single email point of contact for this purpose. Local processes should be established to facilitate the sharing of information between local authorities and Registered Social Landlords, including informing Registered Social Landlords of approaches from private sellers as quickly as possible. These local processes should also ensure that affordable housing providers are not competing with each other for the same properties and that there is an agreed protocol with Registered Social Landlords as to where and what will be primarily targeted for purchase.

Registered social landlord acquisition policies

Registered social landlords should also consider and agree their own strategic approach to acquisitions. If they are keen to utilise acquisitions, they should engage with the local authorities in the areas where they operate to discuss the types of private purchases they have identified as part of their strategic approach, which should align with their asset management strategies. As above, local processes should ensure that Registered Social Landlords are informed of approaches from private sellers through the local authority point of contact. Similarly, where a Registered Social Landlord receives an initial approach from a potential seller, this should be shared with the relevant local authority.

Identifying properties for purchase

Local authorities and registered social landlords that wish to take forward acquisitions are encouraged to communicate with potential sellers of property and their representative bodies through a range of means suitable to their locale. This may include:

  • liaising with local estate agents and solicitors to explain the types of properties which may be suitable for purchase, with a view to receiving early notification of properties for sale
  • engaging with local authority Empty Homes Officers to identify privately owned homes that could be returned to active use
  • advertising in local press/social media
  • connecting with local housebuilders
  • engaging with Homes for Scotland in order to identify additional opportunities for the purchase of new build private homes
  • connecting with individual private landlords and owners about the potential opportunity to purchase property, and
  • engaging with private landlord representative bodies.
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