Wednesday, 28 September 2016

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.’

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