Consultation: Tenancy Strategy

What we're proposing and why we're proposing it: Tenancy Strategy consultation

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

We propose to stop the use of 5-year, fixed-term, tenancies and instead issue secure (commonly known as lifetime) tenancies to our residents at the end of their 12-month introductory tenancy.

New and existing introductory tenants will be offered a secure lifetime tenancy at the end of their introductory tenancy as long as there are no tenancy issues. 

Social housing tenants with a secure or assured tenancy moving to a council home by transfer or mutual exchange will be offered a secure lifetime tenancy. There are also other circumstances where secure lifetime tenancies will be offered.

This would give customers who are keeping to the terms of their tenancy agreement a greater sense of security from the start.

Secure tenancies will also be offered to:

  • those entitled to succeed on the death of a tenant to the tenancy as set out in the tenancy agreement
  • social housing tenants that undertake a transfer, or mutual exchange, with a council tenant that have a secure or assured  tenancy which might be a fixed term tenancy or lifetime tenancy
  • tenants that have successfully completed their introductory tenancy
  • tenants with a flexible fixed term tenancy that are being transferred to a life time secure tenancy as part of the phased approach
  • victims and survivors of domestic abuse who hold a secure or assured tenancy and need to move or, have recently moved from their home to escape domestic abuse

Where there are tenancy issues/breaches for any social housing tenant, normal interventions which we and all registered providers use, would still apply, regardless of what stage of a tenancy lifecycle the tenant is in (introductory, fixed term or secure).

Why we're proposing this

We last produced our Tenancy Strategy in 2013 and this now needs to be updated to reflect current attitudes at local and national level as set out in the white paper The Charter for Social Housing Residents, published in 2020.

The principles that underpin the Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Policy remain the same as in 2013. These are:

  • a social home for those in need, whilst they remain in social need
  • making best use of stock 
  • a fairer system, that promotes social mobility and aspiration
  • helping people to move up the housing ladder

Following feedback from our residents, we know that the use of fixed-term tenancies can create unnecessary anxiety and insecurity for residents and households; if they only have a five-year tenancy, they might have to move from that place if their circumstances have changed.

In terms of the proposed new Tenancy Strategy for 2022 onward, we recommend that:

  • all tenants transferring to us will be granted a tenancy with no less security than they had
  • secure and assured fixed-term and lifetime tenants who transfer to us by way of Mutual Exchange will be offered a lifetime secure tenancy
  • at the end of all successful introductory tenancies, a lifetime secure tenancy will be offered to all
  • in line with the recent Domestic Abuse Act 2021, anyone fleeing domestic abuse will be granted the same security of tenure in their next property as their previous one (as above, secure and assured fixed term and lifetime tenants will be offered a lifetime secure tenancy)

The proposed changes to the draft Tenancy Strategy will help deliver the following outcomes:

  • wherever possible, offer our tenants a lifetime (secure) tenancy; we want to provide more security for our tenants so they can feel more settled without having to worry about whether their tenancy will come to an end every five years and the possibility of having to move
  • a secure lifetime tenancy supports families to put down roots, find schools and work, make local connections and invest in their communities
  • we estimate that significant savings will be made by ending the use of flexible fixed term tenancies; by reducing administrative costs, we can make other improvements within the housing service and assist in detecting potential tenancy fraud
  • it will help us to improve the management of housing we own and allow us to better address tenancy breaches; by freeing up our housing officers’ time, we can help them to make more visits to estates, putting the “social” back into housing, and have more time to deal with neighbour disputes and anti-social behaviour
  • more opportunities to help tenants if they want to consider a move to find a housing solution that might better meet their current needs and help to free up housing stock