Consultation: Tenancy Strategy

The background to our Tenancy Strategy consultation

Consultation opened: Friday 5 November 2021
Consultation closes: Friday 28 January 2022

The 2012 coalition government’s previous social housing strategy had the intention of freeing up social housing supply by the use of flexible fixed term tenancies.

In 2013, we introduced flexible fixed-term tenancies with the aim of making the most efficient use of our limited housing stock, to reduce under occupation and to increase the ability to allocate social housing to those most in need.

For example, tenancies could be used to require single people living in family homes, which were previously suitable for their needs, to move to a smaller property and enable the property to be allocated to families.

We currently issue introductory tenancies to the majority of our new tenants for an initial 12-month period. Upon successful completion of that tenancy, tenants can then be issued with a longer, 5-year, flexible fixed-term tenancy. There is no limit to the number of flexible fixed-term tenancies we can issue. These two tenancies are distinct and the current process requires a significant amount of work to administer.

Our housing officers must meet with tenants regularly throughout the introductory tenancy, at the end of the initial 12-month period, and then towards the end of every 5-year period to review and where necessary sign a new agreement.

We prepared the draft Tenancy Strategy following a review of the use of flexible fixed-term tenancies. This review identified that the use of flexible fixed-term tenancies has not made a significant contribution to the better management of our social housing stock or to the experience of our residents.

Although it might seem that offering fixed-term tenancies is a fairer system, the reality is that most people are not able to transform their housing options within a 5-year period. Many tenants can be social tenants for a significant period of time, and they may move on a number of occasions as their circumstances or needs change.

Many have complex needs and challenges, some have school-age children and require a sustainable long term housing solution. Registered providers across the country have found that the courts generally will only support an eviction where there has been a significant breach of tenancy conditions, and not just because someone’s life circumstances may have changed during the period of the fixed-term tenancy.

We recognise that a people-focussed approach is more likely to produce the right outcome, than the current bureaucratic process required by registered providers managing fixed-term tenancies.