Home Rules Business Premises › Right to Contest Publicly Owned Property
Asking Government to Sell Property

The Right to Contest means you can ask the government to sell property that is vacant or underused. Check how to find and contact government agencies, councils, and public bodies.

RIGHT TO CONTEST: You must follow a set procedure to ask for publicly owned land or buildings to get sold off.

First of all, to make a challenge, the property must either be empty or not used to its full potential.

How to Find the Owner of Land or Buildings

There are several ways to find out who owns the vacant land or underused buildings. You will need to determine which one of the government entities owns the land or the building. A good place to start is:

Asking for the Property to be Sold

You must submit a Right to Contest application to challenge the government into selling off land or property. As a rule, even if you feel there could a better economic use for it, no one must need the land or property.

Download the form and fill in as many sections as you can. You should then send the completed application to the address shown on the document. The addresses will differ for government property and for local council or public body property.

Note: You must state why you feel the property is being underused and how it could be better used. The owner of the land or the building can accept other offers so you do not get any automatic right to buy it.

There is no law forcing the government department or agency to sell. As a rule, they will not offer it for sale if:

  • The proposed use for the land or buildings is unsafe. An example might be if it forms part of army barracks, a port, or it sits on a flood plain.
  • The department already has plans set out for the land (e.g. for a road or a railway line).
  • The cost of selling it would not be good value for taxpayers in the United Kingdom. An example might be having to move a building to another site which might cost more than the property value.

Note: The government department or agency will send you a letter with the outcome of the application. Often, the property would go to auction if they decide to sell it.

Further Help and Contact Information

The Government Property Unit handles property owned by the government and its national agencies.

Government Property Unit
Email: [email protected]

Cabinet Office
1 Horse Guards Road

The Planning Casework Unit handles property owned by local councils and by any of the public bodies.

The Planning Casework Unit
Email: [email protected]

5 St Philip’s Place
Colmore Row
B3 2PW

Right to Contest Publicly Owned Property in the United Kingdom