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Tenancy strategies

This content applies to England

A local housing authority must publish a tenancy strategy setting out the matters it, and other social landlords in its area, are required to consider when framing policies on the types of tenancies they will grant.

Each local housing authority in England must have prepared and published its first tenancy strategy by 15 January 2013.[1] It must then keep it under review and it can periodically modify it or replace it.

Content of strategy

The strategy must set out matters which all registered providers of social housing in its area must consider when framing their own tenancy policies on:[2]

  • the types of tenancies they will grant
  • the circumstances under which different types of tenancies will be granted
  • where they elect to grant fixed-term tenancies, the length of the fixed term
  • the circumstances in which they will grant a further tenancy when the fixed-term expires.

Registered providers of social housing include the local housing authority itself and all private registered providers of social housing (PRPSHs) that are landlords in the area.

Matters to be taken into account

Under Government Directions, the regulator of social housing must set a 'tenancy standard' (see the Regulatory standards page for more information on this) requiring all registered providers to publish their own tenancy policies. Once developed, tenancy policies will govern which types and lengths of tenancy are granted to new tenants and, where applicable, how they will be reviewed at the end of a fixed term.

From 1 April 2012, the 'tenure outcome' of the tenancy standard requires that local authorities and PRPSHs must, when deciding the types of tenancies to grant, consider:[3]

  • the purpose of the accommodation
  • the needs of individual households
  • the sustainability of the community
  • the efficient use of housing stock.

If fixed-term tenancies are to be granted they ought to be for a minimum term of five years, except in 'exceptional circumstances' when they can be granted for a minimum term of two years.[4] Equally, if registered providers use probationary tenancies (introductory tenancies or starter tenancies), these must be for a maximum term of 12 months, or a maximum term of 18 months where reasons for extending the probationary period have been given and the tenant has had the opportunity to request a review.[5]

After the coming into force of section 154 of the Localism Act 2011 on 1 April 2012,[6] local authorities will be able to grant flexible tenancies, a new type of fixed-term secure tenancy,[7] after they have adopted a tenancy strategy or interim policies that allow for it.

The Chartered Institute of Housing guidance How to develop your tenancy policy explains to social housing providers the legal and regulatory expectations for their tenancy policies and the matters to consider when determining their approaches.

The Local Government Association Social Housing Equality Framework is designed to ensure that local authorities meet the requirements of equality legislation when framing new housing strategies and policies.

Preparation or modification of the strategy

When preparing, or modifying, its tenancy strategy the local authority must:[8]

  • consult with all PRPSHs in its area
  • have regard to its allocation and homelessness strategies
  • (London boroughs only) have regard to the London housing strategy.

The local authority must also have regard to its tenancy strategy when formulating or modifying its homelessness strategy.[9] For more information see the page Homelessness strategy.

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.150 Localism Act 2011; The Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional and Saving Provision) Order 2012 SI 2012/57(C.2).

[2] s.150(1) Localism Act 2011.

[3] Para 2 Appendix A 'Final Directions', Implementing Social Housing Reform: Directions to the Social Housing Regulator – Consultation: Summary of Responses, DCLG, December 2011.

[4] Para 2(3)(d) Appendix A 'Final Directions', Implementing Social Housing Reform: Directions to the Social Housing Regulator – Consultation: Summary of Responses, DCLG, December 2011.

[5] Para 2(4)(c) Appendix A 'Final Directions', Implementing Social Housing Reform: Directions to the Social Housing Regulator – Consultation: Summary of Responses, DCLG, December 2011.

[6] s.6(a) Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional, Transitory and Saving Provisions) Order 2012 SI 628/2012.

[7] s.154 Localism Act 2011.

[8] s.151 Localism Act 2011.

[9] s.153 Localism Act 2011.

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