Tenants on new assured shorthold tenancies can buy their housing association home but they’ll have to wait, says Paul Hayes
Secure council tenants have the right to buy under section 118 Housing Act 1985. Assured tenants of housing associations had a similar right to acquire which was reaffirmed by section 180 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008. However, that right was limited to assured (non-shorthold) tenancies.
Regulatory reform has resulted in associations being able to offer fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies for a minimum of five years (two in certain circumstances), with the intention that the landlord can repossess at the end of the term, unless extended.
Housing associations are providing more housing through the affordable homes programme, with most offering assured shorthold tenancies, the use of which is therefore increasing.
With that as a backdrop, section 165 of the Localism Act 2011 has amended section 180 of the Housing and Regeneration Act from 15 January 2012 so that assured shorthold tenants of housing associations also have the right to acquire, subject to certain conditions. Tenancies granted before 15 January 2012 do not qualify.
Confusingly, the Housing and Regeneration Act refers to section 16 of the Housing Act 1996 for those conditions, which has not been amended and excludes assured shorthold tenancies but states tenants must satisfy the qualifying conditions in part V of the Housing Act 1985. This states that tenants must have occupied their property as their only or principal home for at least five years.
So, shorthold tenants will have a right to acquire, but need to occupy their property for at least five years before that right arises - roll on 2017.
Paul Hayes is head of housing litigation at Lewis Silkin