In the last edition of the ARCH
Bulletin we advised that the government intended to end the use
of secure lifetime tenancies for new tenancies and require councils
to issue fixed term tenancies of between 2 and 5 years to all new
We can now confirm that the government has tabled the expected
amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill to introduce mandatory
fixed term tenancies for most new council tenancies in England.
The amendment will mean the phasing out of secure lifetime
tenancies and in the future, new secure tenancies will have to be
for a fixed term of between 2 and 5 years and will not be
automatically renewed. The expected changes to rights of succession
are also included in the amendment to the Bill.
At present a council tenant allocated a secure periodic tenancy
can live in a property for life. The amendment proposed by Housing
Minister, Brandon Lewis, will phase out so called lifetime
tenancies. Towards the end of the term the landlord will have to
conduct a review to decide whether to grant a new tenancy or
commence proceedings to recover possession of the property.
The Housing Minister also proposed an amendment to tenants'
rights of succession to secure, introductory and demoted
At present certain people also have the statutory right to
inherit a secure tenancy if they have been a resident with the
tenant when the tenant dies. This amendment to the Housing and
Planning Bill will change the succession rules: where a person
other than the spouse or partner inherits a periodic secure
tenancy, it will be converted into a 5 year fixed term tenancy and
will not be automatically renewed when it comes to an end.
The requirement to grant fixed term tenancies of between 2 and 5
years will only apply to local authorities in England and not to
housing associations or other registered providers. It is
understood that the Department for Communities and Local Government
want "Private" Registered Providers to follow suit but in the
context of the recent Office for National Statistics' (ONS)
decision to classify housing association debt as public debt, they
need to carefully consider how they can do this.
The only exception on the face of the Bill to allow the granting
of a secure periodic tenancy would be for existing tenants on "old
style secure tenancies" affected by a regeneration/redevelopment
scheme where the council requires them to move home and offers
The government may, by regulation, specify other circumstances
where an old-style secure tenancy may be granted and DCLG officials
have told ARCH that they want to work with local authorities on the
detail of the regulations. ARCH has pointed out that, unless
specifically exempt by such regulations, existing secure tenants
affected by the spare room subsidy (bedroom tax) would lose their
security of tenure and only be eligible for a 2-5 fixed term
tenancy if they asked to move to smaller accommodation -
which seems somewhat unfair.
The only good news is that the amendment to the Bill seems to
leave it to the discretion of the local authority to determine what
to do at the end of the fixed term. It would appear that the
government do not intend to prescribe, either in the Bill or in
Regulations, the reasons or grounds under which the local authority
may decide to seek possession of the property at the end of the
mandatory 2-5 year fixed term tenancy. Certainly there is nothing
in the proposed amendment to the Bill that would seem to prevent an
authority deciding to extend a fixed term tenancy at the end of the
term. Paragraph 86C (4) of the new schedule NS4 to the Bill implies
that each local authority will have discretion to determine a local
policy about the circumstances in which it will (and will not)
grant a further fixed term tenancy on the coming to an end of an
existing fixed term tenancy.
Read the full copy of the relevant proposed new
clauses to the Housing and Planning Bill - clauses NC32 and NC33
(pg 20) and new Schedules NS4 and NS5 (pg 46 to 63).