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Government to end lifetime tenancies for council tenants

The Government is looking to end lifetime tenancies for council tenants in social housing, with reviews of secure tenancies to take place every five years.

What has happened?

The Government has tabled an amendment to the housing and planning bill that sets a maximum of five-year terms for new secure tenancies.

The policy will bring to an end the principle of council tenancies for life in which people were sometimes allowed to pass on the right to live in the property to their next of kin.

Who will this affect?

The move does not apply retrospectively to existing tenancies, but those who inherit a secure tenancy will be subject to the new regime.

The legislation means councils will have to offer all new tenants agreements of between two and five years.

At the end of the fixed term, local authorities will have to carry out a review of the tenant’s circumstance, and decide whether to grant a new tenancy, move the tenant into another more appropriate social rented property, or terminate the tenancy.

Where the local authority decides to terminate the tenancy, they must provide advice to support the tenant into home ownership or to help them access other housing options, whichever is appropriate.

The move does not currently apply to housing association tenants.

What has been the reaction?

The move has been criticised by Labour Shadow Housing Minister John Healey who accused the Government of pursuing “a vendetta” against council tenants and council homes and warned the change could break up communities.

The Government says the change will improve local authorities’ abilities to provide social housing to people who most need it and that, as people’s needs change, so should their tenancies.

What does this mean for my organisation?

Housing associations are not affected by the planned amendment. Local authorities, however, should keep a close eye on the proposals and prepare to review and amend their tenancy agreements, policies and procedures accordingly.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

For more information on the changes or on any other aspect of social housing, please get in touch.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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