Date Approved: April 2021
Review due: May 2023
Please be aware that this full policy may include acronyms or technical jargon used internally within Raven. If you have any questions, please contact us.
1. PURPOSE/POLICY AIMS
1.1 Raven Housing Trust is committed to offering a range of tenure types, ensuring compliance with rent and tenancy standards, as well as any funding arrangements which stipulate the tenure to be offered
1.2 Raven offers a range of tenancy types and options for moving home, to ensure the right homes and services are offered to customers.
1.3 The Policy seeks to ensure suitable forms of tenancy are offered for individual properties and households.
1.4 This Policy is also designed to ensure the best use of Raven’s homes
2.1 The Policy applies to all applicants for affordable housing.
2.2 It does not apply to Leaseholders or Shared Ownership properties / residents.
3. POLICY STATEMENT
3.1 This Policy complies with regulatory guidance notably the Tenancy standard published by the Regulator of Social Housing.
3.2 This Policy sets out the different tenure and tenancy types Raven will offer and the circumstances in which they are used.
3.3 As a general principle, Raven will offer the most secure form of tenancy we can for each type of home and applicant, seeking to maintain levels of security already enjoyed wherever possible when someone moves home.
3.4 This Policy and associated procedures comply with the relevant legislation;
- Housing Act 1985, amended 1998,
- Housing Act 1988, amended 1996,
- Localism Act 2012; introduced
- Housing and Planning Act 2016.
4. IMPACT OF THE LOCALISM ACT 2012
4.1 The Localism Act gave Registered Providers flexibility to issue tenancies of different lengths. The Act intended to improve the ability to manage housing stock effectively and meet customers’ changing needs.
4.2 As a result, Raven’s Board approved the introduction of fixed term (or flexible) tenancies for some applicants in February 2014 and the first Fixed Term tenancies were issued in November 2015.
5. POLICY DETAIL
Raven offers a variety of tenure types, and within each tenure type, there may be variations in the nature of the tenancies offered, generally linked to changes in legislation, funding or local policies. Tenancies vary in relation to terms and conditions, tenancy rights and tenancy security.
5.1 Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST)
Assured Shorthold Tenancies are offered for temporary accommodation, key worker tenancies, market rented properties and intermediate rented properties. Assured Shorthold Tenants are not eligible to transfer to another home, undertake a mutual exchange or assign their tenancy.
An AST can be ended using Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, amended 1996. This is a mandatory ground for possession. No specific breach of tenancy needs to have taken place. Raven will only use this route for possession in specific circumstances, for example, where someone is housed in temporary accommodation and the landlord has discharged its duty to them, or significant breach of a starter tenancy where other routes have been exhausted.
Specific types of Assured Shorthold are used for different circumstances as follows:
5.2 Starter Tenancies
Starter tenancies are a form of assured shorthold tenancy. Raven offers starter tenancies to new social housing tenants. A Starter Tenancy is a probationary tenancy for a period of 12 months. Raven offers two different types of starter tenancy:
5.2.1 Starter tenancy converting to Assured Tenancy.
- This applies to sheltered housing tenants and new general needs tenants of 1- and 2- bedroomed properties.
- Subject to 3 tenancy reviews during the first 12 months, the last of which must be before 10 months
- Automatically convert to an Assured (lifetime) Tenancy after 12 months unless action is started to end the tenancy
- Or, can extend the starter period for a further 6 months where there is a tenancy breach.
- Tenancy can be terminated without fault using S21 notice during first 12 months
- Appeal process in place for S21 notice (mandatory ground for possession),
- Whilst S21 notices are generally used to manage ASB, they may be used in some cases where there are serious and persistent rent arrears,
- When tenants move into an Assured Tenancy, they will gain the right to exchange homes through mutual exchange, or request a transfer to another home.
5.2.2 Starter to Fixed Term tenancy prior to June 2021
- These are offered to all new general needs tenants.
- Subject to 3 tenancy reviews during the first 12 months. The last of these must be before 10 months.
- Automatically converts to a Fixed Term Tenancy (FTT) after 12 months, unless action is started to end the tenancy. Where the legal possession process has begun, the Starter tenancy will remain assured shorthold until the legal action is concluded.
- The Starter Tenancy cannot be extended beyond 12 months, but can be ended during the Introductory year, using a S21 notice (mandatory ground for possession).
- An appeals process is in place for the S21 notice process.
- Whilst S21 notices are usually used to manage ASB, they will be used in some cases where there are serious and persistent rent arrears
- When tenants move into the Fixed Term period they will have rights of succession and can exchange their homes using a process of ‘Surrender and Re-grant’. They cannot exchange during the starter tenancy period.
- For current tenants in a 1-bed or 2-bed property, they will be given an assured tenancy when their Fixed Term comes up for renewal.
5.2.3 Starter to Fixed Term Tenancy, and Fixed Term tenancies, after June 2021
- Starter to Fixed Term tenancies will be offered to customers moving into a 3-bedroomed, or larger, property. The Fixed Term will be for 10 years.
- Three visits will be made in the first year, in the first 6 weeks, at 3 months and at 10 months.
- The 10-year fixed term will follow the starter year, and a further contact will be made at five years. Fixed term tenancies will also be offered to tenants renewing their tenancies having completed one or more fixed terms.
- Where tenants come to the end of their Fixed Term and have rent arrears or have breached other tenancy conditions, they may not be offered a new Fixed Term tenancy. They will be offered a basic periodic assured shorthold tenancy.
- After a period of tenancy compliance, a new Fixed Term tenancy will be offered.
- Fixed Term tenants will be offered advice on preparing for home ownership or other moving options at the end of their fixed term tenancy where this is appropriate.
- Where household circumstances change, Fixed term tenants may be offered a different sized property when their tenancy is due for renewal.
- When a FTT approaches its end date, it can be ended with a S21 notice. However, during the tenancy, Raven will use its normal arrears and enforcement procedures if there is a tenancy breach. Where Raven needs to end a FTT early, a separate forfeiture procedure is used; this is subject to a right of appeal.
- Time in a fixed term tenancy counts towards the qualifying period for right to acquire, should the tenant and property be eligible.
5.3 Assured Shorthold (Intermediate Rent)
- This is an assured shorthold tenancy with a rent set at a proportion of a market rent, typically 80%..
- Intermediate Rent (IR) tenancies are offered to customers who are not eligible for social housing but are unable to access housing in any other way.
- Intermediate rent (IR) tenancies may be offered where a scheme has specific funding, for example for Keyworkers.
- IR tenancies will have the same conditions as other assured shorthold tenancies; there is no access to the transfer list or right to exchange homes. They can be ended using a Section 21 notice under the Housing Act 1988.
5.4 Contractual (Non Assured) Tenancy Agreement
- This tenancy is not an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy within the meaning of the Housing Act 1988.
- A Contractual (Non Assured) tenancy is offered to residents in specific boroughs for temporary accommodation at the request of the relevant local authority.
- It is typically used where the local authority is investigating a homelessness application, but where a duty to house has not been determined. This is set out under sections 188,190, 200 or 204 of the Housing Act 1996 (part VII).
- This type of tenancy can also be issued to persons under the age of 18 in temporary accommodation and will only be issued in consultation with or at the request of the relevant local authority.
- There is no security of tenure and no rights of succession, to transfer, exchange or assign.
- The Agreement can be ended with a Notice to Quit.
5.5 Assured Tenancy
- Tenants who have completed an introductory year of a Starter to Assured Tenancy will acquire assured tenancy rights.
- Assured tenancies are also offered to existing Assured Raven tenants and Assured tenants of other Registered Providers who transfer or exchange with rights to an assured tenancy.
- Assured tenants from other providers may be offered an assured tenancy when they exchange homes with a Raven Fixed Term tenant, if they already hold an assured tenancy.
- Assured tenure also applies to those tenants who transferred from Reigate and Banstead Council, and the London Boroughs of Merton and Sutton. It also applies to a number of Protected and Assured tenants who joined Raven from EGTL Ltd in 2021.
- Sheltered tenants also receive assured tenancies after their initial one-year probationary tenancy.
- Under the terms of the Transfer Agreement from Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, transferring tenants who refused to sign a new tenancy agreement will be treated as though they are Assured Tenants, with the same protected rights as those who did sign a new tenancy agreement.
- Assured Tenants have the right to transfer, assign their tenancy and undertake a mutual exchange. The tenancy has no fixed end date.
- Assured tenants in general needs homes who transferred from Reigate and Banstead Borough Council and the London Boroughs of Sutton and Merton, will usually have a preserved right to buy. Assured Tenants who do not quality for right to buy may have the right to acquire their home instead. Each case will be considered individually to assess qualification and any applicable discounts.
- Assured tenants have the right to remain in the property unless a court order is obtained, having grounds for possession using specific grounds in the Housing Act 1988, amended 1996.
- Raven will put in place clear procedures to ensure the right tenure and tenancy type are offered as set out in this Policy; and ensure staff members are trained to deliver them.
6 Publicising the Policy
- The Policy will be placed on Raven’s website and be promoted via the Nest, Policy Briefings, and training.
7 Monitoring & compliance
- The Tenancy Services Manager is responsible for monitoring compliance with this policy.