Housing Planning Act

The Housing and Planning Act 2016: What you need to know

In May 2016, the Government introduced the Housing and Planning Act 2016 which proposes to introduce major changes. The Act introduces a number of measures, which include changes to the type of housing tenancy we can offer and to the amount of rent you pay if you are considered to be a high earner.

We will keep tenants updated on these changes and updates will be published on this page.

Fixed-term tenancies

Under the new Act most new Council tenancies will be granted for fixed terms of between two and 10 years. However, we will be able to grant households containing a child under the age of nine a longer tenancy, which will last until that child reaches the age of 19. There will be other circumstances in which we can grant a secure tenancy; these will be set out at a later date.

At the end of the fixed term, a review will be carried out to decide whether to offer a new tenancy. The Act also requires that future successions to secure tenancies, other than when a spouse or civil partner is succeeding, are carried out under a fixed-term (rather than a secure) tenancy.

Current tenants with secure tenancies will not be affected by these changes. We have not yet made a decision on what length of tenancy to offer.

No date has been set for bringing this change into effect.

What does this mean?
Councils have been advised by Government to offer only Fixed Term Tenancies with a two to 10 year term once statutory guidance has been issued, unless they are notified that a child under 9 lives in the property when the tenancy is granted. The 2016 Act does not affect assured tenancies.

How will this affect tenants?
Regulations and statutory guidance will dictate the length of tenancy Councils should grant in different circumstances, and the cases in which they should grant an additional tenancy at the end of a fixed term. These will be published towards the end of 2016 

Councils will be able to give fixed term tenancies of up to 10 years in some circumstances. This is expected to include disabled people, older people, and carers. Families with school age children will be given a fixed term tenancy that lasts until the child’s 19th birthday, as long as the landlord is notified that the child lives in the property 

New introductory tenancies will also be fixed term tenancies that comply with guidance on appropriate duration for the household (minimum 2 years). Councils will be able to grant permanent tenancies in certain cases (e.g. domestic violence cases). Councils must grant a permanent tenancy if they move a current ‘lifetime tenant’ to a new home for regeneration purposes. Tenants will have a right to ask for a review of the length of tenancy offered to them.

What will happen at the end of a fixed term?
Landlords will review the tenancy at the end of that term to see if the tenant can remain for another fixed period, move to another property or leave Council housing altogether. Landlords must offer advice on buying a home and other housing options if they consider it appropriate at that time 

Rights to succession and compensation for improvements?
People succeeding to a tenancy will be given a five year fixed term tenancy. The statutory right to improve, and receive compensation for improvements, will become voluntary i.e. Councils will not be required to include this in tenancy agreements.

When will this be implemented?
We are awaiting secondary legislation, consultation and timescale information from Government, as no date for this change has been set. However it could start from April 2017.

High-income social tenants (‘pay to stay’)

Harlow Council has welcomed the decision that the Government’s previous plans to introduce higher rents for higher income Council tenants are to be dropped.

As part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 the Government planned to introduce an income based rents policy also known as “pay to stay”. A copy of the written statement from the Minister of State for Housing and Planning & Minister for London can be viewed at: www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-11-21/HCWS274/