- The completed its passage through the House of Commons on 12
January and has now passed to the House of Lords, where its Second
reading has been scheduled for 26 January
- Several amendments were made by the House of Commons to Part 4
of the Bill, which deals with social housing
- Chapter 2 (Sale of Vacant High Value Council Housing) will now
come into effect on Royal Assent
- Any agreement between the Secretary of State and a London
Borough to reduce a levy under Chapter 2 will be expected to
provide for 2-for-1 replacement of council homes sold
- New measures to deregulate housing associations have been
- Housing associations have been exempted from compulsory 'pay to
- Clauses dealing with the rent chargeable to tenants who fail to
provide income information or whose circumstances change have been
- A new Chapter 6 has been added requiring new tenancies issued
by local authorities to be for a term of two to five years in most
circumstances, and amending rights of succession.
The Government pushed through two amendments to Chapter 2 of
Part 4. One provides for this Chapter to come into force on Royal
Assent, earlier than most other parts of the Act. This may enable a
levy to be made for 2016/17, although there will need to be
consultation on a draft determination before that can be done.
The second amendment responds to representations by Zac
Goldsmith MP and amends Clause 72 of the Bill to make special
provision for London. Clause 72 enables the Secretary of State to
enter into an agreement with a local authority to reduce the
payment due under a high value sale determination provided the
reduction is used to provide or facilitate the provision of
housing. The presumption is that this power will be used to provide
replacement housing, although there is no reference in the clause
as drafted to either one-for-one replacement or to the location of
any replacement housing. Nor is there any requirement for either
the Secretary of State or any local authority to enter into an
agreement under this clause.
As amended, Clause 72 specifies that any agreement with a London
Borough must require the local authority to ensure that sold
dwellings are replaced by at least two affordable new homes. New
affordable homes funded by the GLA may be deducted from this
requirement, and the Secretary of State also has power by
regulation to disapply the 2-for-1 requirement in specified local
authority areas. For these purposes a new affordable home is widely
defined as either a new dwelling "made available for people whose
needs are not adequately served by the commercial housing market"
or a starter home as defined in Part 1 of the Bill.
As with the original Clause 72, there is no requirement for
either the Secretary of State or any London borough to enter into
In debate, MPs representing high value areas outside London
asked whether Ministers would agree to similar arrangements and
received a sympathetic response. Powers to make such arrangements
are made available in the Bill as it now stand
The original proposal to impose the 'pay to stay' scheme on
housing associations has now been abandoned. The Bill has, however,
been amended to give housing associations the necessary powers to
facilitate voluntary 'pay to stay' schemes, including access to
HMRC data on similar terms to local authorities.
The Government has amended the Bill as it relates to local
authorities to remove the requirement on authorities to charge the
full market rent to any tenant who fails to provide income
information, and replace it with a requirement to pay a "maximum"
rent as specified in regulations.
Clause 113 and Schedule 7 of the latest version of the Bill
amend the Housing Act 1985 so that when local authorities offer a
new tenancy it must be a flexible tenancy of at least two but no
more than five years except in specified circumstances. The
specified exceptions are where a tenant is transferred at the
council's behest, and as specified in regulations. In debate, the
Minister confirmed the exemption of forced transfers and stated his
intention to give local authorities "the freedom and flexibility to
apply that to voluntary moves as well".
Clause 114 and Schedule 8 amend the succession rights of
existing and new secure tenants to remove the difference between
tenancies granted before and since April 2012. Currently, tenancies
granted before April 2012 include the right to one succession which
applies automatically to spouses and civil partners, and to other
family members if they have lived with the tenant for at least 12
months prior to his or her death. Tenancies since April 2012
provide a statutory right to succeed for spouses, civil partners
and those living with the former tenant as spouse or civil partner,
but not for other family members. However, local authorities may
provide any additional succession rights they think appropriate.
The new clause provides that the rules applying to tenancies since
April 2012 will apply to all tenancies.