Monday, 02 March 2015

Government accused of lifetime tenancy U-turn

The shadow housing minister has accused the government of a breaking a promise to protect the rights of existing tenants.

Alison Seabeck said ministers have gone back on a commitment not to scrap lifetime tenancies for tenants who are already in social housing.

Under proposals in the Localism Bill, which is currently going through parliament, social landlords would be able to set fixed-term tenancies for new tenants.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has insisted these reforms will not affect existing tenants under any circumstances.

When questioned on the subject in parliament last week, he said: ‘There is no chance of, or way in which, a social tenancy can be broken or changed for anybody already in council or housing association homes.’

But during discussions on the Localism Bill yesterday, communities minister Andrew Stunell suggested discretion on retaining security of tenure when existing tenants move home ‘should be available to landlords’.

Ms Seabeck said: ‘From the prime minister down, the government has promised repeatedly that changes to social housing will not see existing social tenants lose their rights to a secure tenancy.

‘That promise has been broken and tenants should be very concerned about the way Tory and Liberal Democrat ministers are threatening their right to secure home.’

The Communities and Local Government department said Mr Stunell has been setting out government policy.

A spokesperson said: ‘Existing secure and assured tenants will see no change to the terms of their tenancies and will also retain their lifetime tenancy if they transfer or exchange their properties, even if they exchange with a tenant in a new flexible tenancy. And those required to move home, for example to allow demolition and regeneration work to take place, they will always be granted a tenancy with no less security in their new settled home.

‘Andrew Stunell made clear that if existing secure or assured tenants choose to move to a new affordable rent property, the landlord will not be required to offer lifetime security but would have the discretion to do so.’

Readers' comments (58)

  • Rick Campbell

    Should tenants be shouting very loudly about the possibility/potential for their tenancies to be 'downgraded' at the whim of a landlord or should we just lay back and be shafted?

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  • I did wonder if something like this would be slipped in!

    Time for the tenant bodies to get together and really stand up for tenants over this issue.

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  • We should shout loud and very clearly but how to start. TSA and HOS useless. Perhaps regular contributors PSR and Gresley can provide a lead.

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  • Melvin Bone

    Even if this is true and it did get through legislation I'd be interested if Labour would remove it when they got back in...

    Oh and is this the same MP who was clearly in breach of the rules of the Houses of Parliment in not declaring her indirect interest in debates... Yes it is.

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  • Rick Campbell

    I don't think any government would remove it.

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  • Alex Brown

    Sorry but was I the only one who saw this in the "consultation" document where the possibility of losing security of tenure was first mooted. It has always been a nailed on certainty that they would look for some way to destroy security of tenure.

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  • I asked the question about existing tenants when this new tenancy rules was first discussed. I wondered how long it would take before existing tenants were brought into the discussion!

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  • There is no nationwide independent body of tenants elected by tenants. Tenants have been hoodwinked by governemnts and social landlords with the so-called "tenants involvment" instead of being encouraged to set up a national body by them for themselves.
    Only tenants can defend their rights and nobody else. This is what tenants shoud think about before anything else.
    Until there is a national independent tenants' body elected by tenant for tenants you can shout how much you like but you'll only be heard if it is convenient to them and not to tenants.

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  • Ok lets get a grip shall we.
    "when existing tenants move home" if you dont move it isn't an issue.
    "discretion...should be available to landlords" discretion and should, both hypotheticals - or do any of the "we're doomed" brigade have any irrefutable proof of landlords' plans to enforce moves and tenancy demotion.

    i'll ask a question. if you no longer "need" a lifetime tenancy and you are choosing to move home, why shouldnt you be offered a fixed term tenancy so that those less fortunate and more in "need" may benefit from the cheaper rent you have??

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  • Existing tenancies are already under threat if you are under-occupying and in receipt of HB. This Government will only pay for what is considered needed - say a one bed flat, for someone in a 3 bed home - while I can see there is a need to free up homes, this is not the way, as it will inevitably cause problems in housing management and communities through over-crowding. It will also destroy years of hard work by HA's to establish community cohesion.

    There is also the issue of where will the existing tenant go - private landlord, who's rent will perhaps be just as high, if not higher, than the existing rent the tenant has, OR will the existing social landlord help out and offer alternate accommodation? If the SL does help the existing tenancy will change and will go from secure/assured to periodic. SO not only will this tenant loose their HOME (which is my argument all the way through this - this country is becoming a place where you can only have a secure home if you can BUY it) but also they will loose their community, social structure etc.... Oh and who will pay for the move and it's heavy costs?????

    This Government is hell-bent on community destruction and more over destruction of the already miserable lives of the disadvantaged in this country.

    I can see quite a few high court challenges on the horizon and who can blame any tenant who does this. Oh an of course this will cost the Government more money as most tenants will of course be entitled to legal aid :D

    I would not mind if they had thought this through, but obviously they have not and this gives me a total absence of confidence in this Government and it's policies. (and ALL parties are the same before I am accused of Tory/Lib Dem bashing!)

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