Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Rules to restrict use of two year tenancies

Regulations covering affordable rent will make it clear two year tenancies should only be used in exceptional circumstances, the housing minister has said.

Speaking in a debate on the future of social housing in parliament this morning, Grant Shapps said he did not expect to see any tenants being thrown out of their homes after two years.

Under affordable rent, social landlords will be able to set rents at up to 80 per cent of market level and introduce fixed-term tenancies lasting as little as two years. Mr Shapps said tenancies this short would be very unusual.

‘I’m absolutely clear,’ he said. ‘Two years is to be used just in exceptional circumstances, and at least five years will be the norm.’

Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich Nick Raynsford asked why the government did not accept an amendment to the Localism Bill that would have made clear two-year tenancies could only be used in exceptional cases. Mr Shapps said it was because this would be set out in forthcoming tenancy regulations.

As an example of an ‘exceptional circumstance’ he outlined the case of a constituent who became paralysed from the neck down following a motorcycle accident. Mr Shapps said when he approached the council, he was told they could not offer the man a home because they had none available, and if they had they would have to offer it to him for life.

‘To believe that people will be thrown out of their homes after two years is to fundamentally misunderstand the role of social landlords in this country,’ he said.

Mr Shapps also defended moves in the Localism Bill to make tenants go to a local representative with any complaints before these can be referred to the housing ombudsman.

He said the move would help tenants and ensure councillors become more involved in housing issues: ‘I believe we will see far more cases resolved at a local level.’

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