Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Shapps accused of breaking tenancy pledge

Housing minister Grant Shapps has been accused of breaking a pledge that two-year tenancies will only be used in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Shapps, in a Westminster Hall debate on 28 June, said: ‘I am being clear, in all our language and in the tenancy standards that we will put in place that two years is to be considered an exceptional circumstance, and that at least five years would be the norm.’

Mr Shapps also said last month that the government had not accepted an amendment to the Localism Bill, which would have made clear two year tenancies could only be used in exceptional cases, because this would be set out in tenancy regulations.

But in a letter to MP Jeremy Lefroy on 5 July Mr Shapps said it is not the government’s intention to set a tenure standard requiring landlords to use a two year tenancy in exceptional circumstances.

Nick Raynsford, former housing minister, accused Mr Shapps of breaking a promise and called on him to explain his actions to the House of Commons.

He said: ‘This is not just a disgraceful breach of his own promise, but a further illustration of the government’s cynical betrayal of the interests of tenants.’

A Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: ‘The Localism Bill will offer a fairer and more flexible system of social housing, ensuring the most vulnerable in our society continue to be protected while giving councils the freedom to offer fixed tenancies to new tenants, where that makes more sense.

‘Ministers have been clear that while councils and housing associations will be able to offer minimum tenancies of two years, they expect this to be in exceptional circumstances with five years the more common minimum offered by landlords.

‘We are currently consulting on a Direction to the Regulator on a new Tenancy Standard that proposes that landlords will be required to take account of the needs of those who are vulnerable by reason of age, disability or illness, and households with children, including through the provision of tenancies which provide a reasonable degree of stability.’

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