No approaches on two-year fixed-term tenancies, says HCA
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Local Government
No approaches on fixed-term tenancies, says HCA
The social housing watchdog says it has not yet been approached about breaches to the regulatory framework around councils offering and planning to roll-out two-year fixed-term tenancies for young people.
The new regulatory framework for social housing in England - launched in April – stipulates that tenancies below five years should be offered in "exceptional circumstances".
Although the conditions cover both local authorities and housing associations, some councils are already offering or planning to roll-out fixed-term tenancies of two years to young people and those with a history of anti-social behavior.
It follows the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 which scraps lifetime tenancies for new tenants.
In June, the London borough of Barnet became the first local authority to sign new tenants up to fixed-term contracts.
The Conservative-run authority - through its 15,000-home ALMO, Barnet Homes - is offering single people under the age of 25 (excluding care leavers), introductory tenancies of one year followed by tenancies which will be reviewed every two years.
Quizzed on whether being under-25 equated to "exceptional", councillor Tom Davey, cabinet member for housing, said: "It is to stop somebody straight out of school getting a house for five years. If you know you're going to get that, the desire to further yourself isn't there. Two years time is enough time to get yourself into work or on a traiining course. If in two years time, somebody is still in need, that case will be taken on its merit.
"Looking at our housing stock, as far as we're concerned, someone given a house under 25 is exceptional. We think this group has a different criteria and should be able to better help themselves."
Another Conservative borough – Hammersmith and Fulham – has also announced plans to offer under-25s fixed term tenancies of two years as well as those with a history of anti-social behavior. Its wider allocations overhaul – which it describes as "ripping up the social housing rulebook" – was praised by new housing minister Mark Prisk.
The social housing regulator said that tenancy lengths fall under the consumer standards and that it has not yet been approached on this matter to date.
A spokesperson for the Homes and Communities Agency said: “The regulator can only intervene on breaches of the consumer standards in cases that have or could give rise to serious detriment to tenants. We assess the information we receive against the criteria published in the Regulatory Framework. Any follow up action is in accordance with approaches set out in the Framework.”
Earlier this year, homelessness charity Shelter warned that an “absence” of regulatory guidance could hamper the ability of social housing tenants to challenge the ‘exceptional circumstance’ rule in the Government’s new fixed-term tenancies.
Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns, said: “Offering tenancies of only two years to social tenants under 25 will create yet more insecurity for young people in these difficult times. We hear a lot about government and councils wanting to get young people into work, but these shorter tenancies could act as an enormous disincentive to someone to increasing their income at a time when they are just getting established in working life.”
READ NEXT »