Sunday, 28 May 2017

No mention of Shapps' five-year tenancy pledge in consultation

The government has said the majority of new affordable rent tenants will be given tenures longer than the new two-year minimum, but neglected to say how long.

A consultation on housing reform was launched today by Grant Shapps containing directions to the social housing regulator on five key issues.

The housing minister outlined directions on tenure, mutual exchange, tenant involvement and empowerment, rent and quality of accommodation.

Earlier this year Mr Shapps said in Parliament that two years would be used in ‘exceptional circumstances’ and he that ‘at least five years will be the norm’ for new social tenants.

However, there was no mention of five years or any other period of time longer than the minimum in the directions and only a fleeting mention of longer tenures in question and answers attached to the consultation.

The direction states: ‘Where registered providers grant general needs tenancies, these are for a minimum fixed term of two years, in addition to any probationary tenancy period.’

This direction does not apply however where registered providers grant periodic secure or assured tenancies.

In the consultation a question is posed on whether the draft direction on tenure set out the right minimum requirements for a registered provider’s tenancy policy.

The response was: ‘The Government believes that the minimum guarantee should be a two-year tenancy.

‘However we would expect, and responses to the Local Decisions consultation suggest, that the vast majority of tenancies will be provided on longer terms – particularly for vulnerable households or those with children.’

Directions to the social housing say that landlords must consider the needs of households who are vulnerable by reason of age, disability or illness and households with children.

The term vulnerable has long been a source of contention with providers, many of who are unsure what makes a household vulnerable.

Directions in the consultation also refer to the remaining four key areas:

  • Mutual exchange: to require landlords to enable access to internet-based mutual exchange schemes allowing tenants who want to move the best possible opportunity of finding a match, making the scheme truly national for the first time.
  • Tenant involvement: to strengthen landlord accountability to tenants and support the Tenant Cashback model, providing new opportunities for social housing tenants to get involved in commissioning repair and maintenance services for their homes.
  • Rent: to make changes to reflect the introduction of the Affordable Rent model.
  • Quality of accommodation: to clarify that providers are expected to maintain their stock at a decent level.

The government’s plan is for the standards resulting from these directions to apply to all registered providers.

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