Localism and changes in the law

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  • 1. Localism and tenancies
    • A round up of some changes in the law which will impact on tenants
    • Yvonne Davies
    • 11 th March 2011
  • 2. Changes in the law
    • Tenancy reform in localism bill:
    • Tenure
    • Allocations
    • Mobility
    • Homelessness
    • Overcrowding and under- occupation
    • Other laws:
    • Freedom – CCTV and wheel-clamping
    • New tenants power of scrutiny
    • Affordable rents
  • 3. Tenure
    • Local housing authorities are to publish a tenancy strategy
    • The creation of a new flexible tenancy for local authority landlords with a minimum fixed term of two years.  The government plans to retain two-year tenancies as an option whilst saying it expects the majority of tenancies to be for longer terms, especially for vulnerable households and those with children.
    • A new tenancy standard will be introduced from April 2012 (not to be confused with the current TSA Tenancy Standards)
  • 4. Tenure (2)
    • Social landlords have to publish and maintain a clear and accessible tenancy policy with certain mandatory elements, including:
    • the type of tenancies they will grant
    • the circumstances that decide on the type of tenancy offered;
    • rights of appeal;
    • grounds on which a decision to renew a tenancy will be made;
    • provisions for the vulnerable;
    • advice and assistance to be offered to those not granted another tenancy and details of when discretionary succession will be allowed.
  • 5. Tenure – what does it mean for you?
    • Existing tenants retain their right of security, including in most cases on mutual exchange with a fixed terms tenants
    • The 2 year tenancies are available to local authorities to assist waiting list issues
    • The government expects most tenancies to be long term, particularly for vulnerable people and those with children
    • The 2 years start at the end of any probationary tenancy period
    • Changes to come in on 31 st March 2010
  • 6. Allocations
    • It allows local authorities to restrict access to their statutory allocation scheme, and to exclude existing council and housing association tenants unless they have reasonable preference.
    • The government currently does not plan to make any changes to the existing statutory ‘reasonable preference’ (Priority Housing groups) categories which determine who has priority for social housing.
    • Landlords will not be forced to set up a separate system  for transfer requests, but have the freedom to make arrangements that best suit the needs of the local area.
    • Appeals on priority will remain
  • 7. Mobility
    • The government plans to go ahead with proposals for a national home swap scheme
    • A new regulatory standard governing services to support mutual exchange which all landlords to subscribe to an internet-based service that is free to tenants.
    • The landlord must chose a scheme that shares exchange property details with other schemes, or else participate in a range of different schemes.
    • The landlord's preferred exchange service will tenants with suggested matches and a clickable link to other service providers for further matches.
  • 8. Mobility (2)
    • The Chartered Institute of Housing will work with landlords to produce a service level agreement that defines minimum technical, information and security provisions for data sharing.
    • Landlords will be expected to publicise the exchange scheme to its tenants and assist the “digitally excluded”.
    • The government favours a payment by results model for exchange services and will fund a series of projects to trial various approaches. (Details will be announced in the spring).
  • 9. Homelessness
    • This allows local authorities to discharge their homelessness duties through an offer of a privately rented home.
    • Homes offered must be “suitable” and within the LA boundary:
      • Affordable
      • Size,
      • Condition
      • Accessible
      • Location
      • Must be for at least 12 months
    • The homeless duty reoccurs if the persons, through no fault of their own become homeless again within 2 years
  • 10. Overcrowding and under-occupation
    • The government says that the reforms to tenure, allocations and homelessness in the Localism Bill will help tackle overcrowding.
    • It has £13 million to the 50 biggest local authority landlords to tackle under-occupation and intends establishing a new national team of advisers based at the Chartered Institute of Housing to support councils who want to help tenants to downsize, for example:
      • dedicated officers to help find residents suitable new homes
      • a moving service to assist tenants with every aspect of moving
      • handymen to decorate and make repairs to new homes
  • 11. The Protections of Freedoms Bill
    • The main elements which impact on tenants include:
    • Unable to use covert video monitoring for low level offences
    • Need approval by a magistrate to use covert video
    • Scaling back Criminal Records Bureau checks for officers
    • Powers of Entry will be reviewed (16 relate to housing acts and many more for gas safety)
    • Prohibition of wheel clamping on private land.
      • No impact on local authorities on public land
      • Will apply to Housing Associations
      • Landlords may to rethink parking controls
  • 12. Affordable rents
    • A new Affordable rent tenancy will be offered by Housing Associations from April 2011
    • Tenancies will be fixed term tenancies at a higher social rent, but no more than 80% of market rents
    • Housing Associations are encouraged to charge these rents to new tenants to raise funds to build new homes
  • 13. New tenants power of scrutiny
    • The Localism bill will incorporate the powers to close the TSA:
    • With strengthened powers through tenant panels to scrutinise services
    • ( More on that later from Linda & Graeme )
    • With strengthened powers for tenants to be involved in resolving disputes/complaints
    • ( More on that later from Linda )
  • 14. Where can I read the full reports
    • Local decisions: next steps towards a fairer future for social housing
    • www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/localdecisionsresponse
    • Protection of freedoms Bill
    • http:// services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/protectionoffreedoms.html
  • 15. Thanks for listening -any questions?
    • [email_address]
    • Tel: 07867 974659
    • [email_address]
    • Tel: 07967 342436
    • www.tenantadvisor.net