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Lifetime tenancies to be scrapped

View profile for Louise Hebborn
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Post Christmas possession proceedings

So-called 'lifetime tenancies' are being phased out by the government under plans to better utilise the UK's limited rented social housing stock.

Under the proposals, social landlords - including local authorities - will now only be able to offer fixed term tenancies "up to ten years", with guidance to be issued by Westminster later in the year. At present, tenants can live in the property for life, so long as they abide by the conditions of tenancy. The tenant also has the right to buy that property under the Right to Buy scheme and can swap properties with another council or housing association tenant, subject to permission. Furthermore, tenancies can be transferred to other family members, under certain conditions.

The changes will mean an end to 'lifetime council tenants', and tenants will now be subject to tenancy reviews, where the individual's circumstances will be taken into account before deciding to take one of three actions:

  • Grant a new tenancy for the existing property;
  • Move the tenant into another 'appropriate' social rented property;
  • Terminate the tenancy

Under circumstances where the tenancy is terminated, the local authority or social landlord will be required to provide help and advice to the former tenant, easing the transition to private renting, home ownership or other housing options.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has said that the changes will improve the ability of providers to supply social housing 'for those who need it more, for as long as they need it'.

A spokesman for DCLG said: "This is about ensuring we make the best use of our social housing and that tenancies change as needs change". The government have also suggested the changes will help families make the transition into home ownership, but critics argue that the plans will break up longstanding communities and remove a sense of security for vulnerable groups.

By Louise Hebborn - Partner and Commercial Solicitor