Compulsory purchase orders (CPO)

Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) allow public bodies to force homeowners to sell up if their property or business obstructs a regeneration project or it’s for the “greater public good”. They can be issued by local authorities, highways authorities, regional development agencies, English Partnerships and, in Greater London, English Heritage.

No private individual or company has the power to take you to court to force you to sell your home or business. And any public body that wants a Compulsory purchase order (CPO) has to prove that it’s for the “greater public good” and not for private gain.

When a Compulsory Purchase Order (CP0)  is made, the authority CANNOT force you to sell. They are merely applying to a government department for powers to be able to force you to sell. Depending on what you and others do next, it may take months or years before they secure these powers, if they do at all.

Once the compulsory purchase process starts it is important that you keep a comprehensive record of all communications with the acquiring authority. You should also keep detailed records of all expenses incurred and losses sustained as you may be able to recover these as part of your claim for compensation. You should bear in mind that you can only receive compensation for expenses and losses which occur as a direct and reasonable consequence of the acquisition of your property.

You are also under a duty to “mitigate your loss”.This means that you should take steps to minimise your losses. If losses are increased as a result of your actions (or lack  f them) you will not receive compensation for these increased losses.

For example, you may need to employ a removals firm to assist with your move. If so, you should obtain quotes from three reputable firms. Assuming all three are the same service you should instruct the cheapest in order to mitigate your loss.

Some examples of the types of projects where compulsory purchase may be needed are:

• town centre regeneration

• housing developments

• road building projects

• rail building projects

• airport expansions

• electricity power plants pylons and cables

• flood defence works

• sewer, water or gas pipeline schemes

RICS CPO Help Line