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Compulsory purchase orders

A compulsory purchase order (CPO) can be used to buy your home, property or land from you.

The process

There’s a legal process that must be followed before your home or property can be compulsory purchased:

  1. You must be told about a CPO that affects your home and have the chance to object

  2. If there are any objections, a public inquiry is held

  3. If the public inquiry agrees your home should be purchased, the CPO is confirmed

  4. You'll negotiate an amount of compensation for losing your home

  5. Ownership of your home transfers to the organisation buying your home

  6. You’ll get a letter called a notice of entry, telling you when to move out by

The process can take several months, sometimes years.

Who can use a CPO to buy your home

Only the following organisations can get a CPO:

  • the council

  • the Scottish Government

  • Network Rail

  • utility companies such as Scottish Gas, Scottish Power or Scottish Water

They're called acquiring authorities.

Being told about a CPO

You must be informed about a proposed CPO that affects your home.

You’ll get a letter explaining why your home must be bought. It will tell you how to access full details of the CPO. These might be available in a public place, like a library or in council buildings.

You do not have to move out immediately.

You have the right to object to a CPO if it affects your home.

If your home is purchased through a CPO

You’re entitled to compensation for losing your home.

If you own your home, the compensation should be the same as what you'd get for selling on the open market. You can also get compensation payments for having to move out and removal costs.

If you rent your home, you can get compensation for having to move out and removal costs.

Agreeing to sell before a CPO

If you own your home, you can agree to a voluntary sale to avoid going through the CPO process.

Before you sell to the acquiring authority, get legal advice from a solicitor. They’ll help you understand your options, and:

  • organise any surveys

  • negotiate the sale price

  • do the legal work to sell your home

  • make sure you get the compensation you’d receive if your home was bought through a CPO

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland

Check our advice on getting legal help for free or at a lower cost.

Forcing the sale

If the property you own is going to be affected by public works or development, you can try to force the sale.

You can do this by sending a blight notice to the authority responsible for the works or development.

This could be when:

  • the acquiring authority will not agree to a voluntary sale

  • you cannot sell your home on the open market because of the works or development

  • the value of your home has dropped because of the works or development

Using a blight notice

A blight notice is a legal document that forces the authority to purchase your home.

They must pay you what you'd get for selling on the open market. This is sometimes called the unblighted price.

Getting a blight notice is not straightforward. You’ll need a solicitor to help you.

If you try to use a blight notice and the acquiring authority still refuses to buy your home, you can appeal at the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. A solicitor will help you do this.

Last updated: 15 December 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England