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.

The covenant is sometimes known as the "Devon Rule" or "Devon Covenant."

Restrictive Covenants

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

Which houses does this apply to?

  • Houses which were bought from the Council, in other words under the 'right to buy' scheme before 22 February 1999. 
  • On that date the Council sold all its houses to West Devon Homes, which has since become part of LiveWest. In the case of houses bought from that Company, after 22 February 1999, you or your Solicitor should contact LiveWest to find out what restrictions apply.
  • Not all former Council houses in West Devon have this restriction - it will usually apply to ones in the designated rural areas outside the towns of Tavistock and Okehampton.
  • 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 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 the conditions are satisfied, the Council must give consent.

How can I apply for consent?

Please send the forms and documents to:

West Devon Borough Council
Kilworthy Park
Drake Road
PL19 0BZ