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Family intervention tenancies and projects

This content applies to England

Family intervention tenancies can be offered by local authorities and registered social landlords in circumstances of antisocial behaviour.

What is a family intervention tenancy?

Family intervention tenancies( FIT) were created as a means of working with families that have been involved in antisocial behaviour.

FITs can only be offered for the purposes of providing behavioural support services to tenants against whom a possession order:

  • has been made in relation to a secure/assured tenancy on the grounds of antisocial behaviour; or
  • could have been so made in relation to a secure/assured tenancy, or could have been so made if the tenant had had such a tenancy, on the grounds of antisocial behaviour[1]

FITs do not provide any rights to succession nor offer tenants any long-term security. They can be terminated by the landlord following the correct procedure.

Behaviour support agreement

FITs can only be used for the purpose of providing behaviour support services that have been outlined in a written behaviour support agreement. This agreement will be between the tenant, the family intervention project, the social landlord providing the accommodation, and the local housing authority for the district in which the accommodation is to be provided (where different from the landlord).

The behaviour support agreement should outline the:

  • expected changes in the behaviour of the household
  • behaviour support that will be provided
  • sanctions that will apply if the agreement is not complied with

Legislation and guidance

FITs came into force on 1 January 2009 and were introduced by the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.[2]

The Department for Communities and Local Government guidance for social landlords details what social landlords, family intervention projects and other agencies should consider when deciding to use family intervention tenancies.

The National Housing Federation briefing for housing associations outlines the main issues in the CLG guidance.

Requirements for the creation of a family intervention tenancy

From 1 January 2009, local authorities and private registered providers of social housing (PRPSH) have been able to grant FITs to their existing tenants who have been, or could be at risk of possession proceedings based on their behaviour, or the behaviour of those living with them. They can also offer FITs to tenants who do not have a secure or assured tenancy.[3]

A tenant is not obliged to enter into a FIT; however, it may be advisable because failure to do so could result in further or continuing possession action against their existing tenancy.

Social landlords should follow the Pre-action Protocol for Possession Cases by Social Landlords before pursuing possession proceedings.

Procedure

A notice must first be served on the tenant to ensure that they are fully aware of the purpose and nature of a FIT and the consequences of relinquishing their secure/assured tenancy. In practice a decision on whether to accept a FIT will be closely aligned with the family's decision on whether or not to accept the overall support package offered to them (though there may be cases where they signal they do not wish to accept a FIT but do want to accept support).

Content of notice

The notice must contain the following:

  • reasons for offering the FIT
  • details of the accommodation the FIT will be applicable to
  • the other terms of the FIT (including those pertaining to any requirements on the new tenant in respect of behaviour support services)
  • an explanation of the insecure nature of a FIT (in comparison to a secure/assured tenancy)
  • an explanation that the tenant is under no compulsion to either, give up his existing tenancy or accept the FIT
  • an explanation of the possible consequence of not accepting the Family Intervention Project support services and FIT
  • advice as to how the tenant may obtain assistance in relation to the FIT notice served on them.[4]

Independent advice

Social landlords must provide information on how the tenant can access independent advice in respect of the notice served.[5] Guidance states that landlords should make reasonable efforts to ensure that households, which often will have multiple and complex problems, can obtain appropriate advice about the significance of entering into a FIT. [6]

Duration of family intervention tenancy

FITs are intended as a means of working with families that have been involved in antisocial behaviour. An FIT should run for the duration of the behaviour support programme, which is normally will be for a period of between six and 12 months, though it can be for up to two years.

Moving back into social housing

The allocation of accommodation to a family intervention tenant is not subject to the provisions of Part 6 of the 1996 Act.[7] This enables local authorities to move people out of FITs and back into mainstream social housing whenever it is appropriate.

A FIT can be converted into a secure or assured tenancy on the service of notice by the landlord.[8] A local authority, that has adopted an introductory tenancy regime, can offer an introductory tenancy and a PRPSH can offer a starter tenancy (ie an assured shorthold tenancy which later is converted into an assured tenancy). [9]

For FITs that were granted on or after 1 April 2012, the FIT can be converted into a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy of at least two years duration on the service of notice by a PRPSH.[10]

The role of family intervention projects

Family intervention projects aim to address and change the behaviour of families that have been involved in antisocial behaviour. The projects can help families achieve a level of stability, prevent homelessness and improve opportunities for children. They provide intensive support in order to achieve this, alongside enforcement in order that they provide children with the incentive to change.

Each project varies as regards the services they provide. However, they do share the key features set out below:

  • Key workers – their role is to manage or 'grip' the family's problems, co-ordinate the delivery of services and using a combination of support and sanction to motivate the family to change their behaviour. If families start to disengage, services are stepped up and the key worker will work harder to re-engage with the family.
  • Contract – this is drawn up between the family and key worker. It contains the changes that are expected from the family, the support that will be offered in order to achieve it, and potential consequences should changes not occur, or set tasks not be undertaken.
  • Sanctions – the use of sanctions provide motivation for families to change. Demoting tenancies or gaining possession orders suspended on the basis of compliance with the projects or, for some, the very real prospect of children being taken into care, can provide the wake up call to take the help on offer.
  • Parenting skills – improving parenting skills is always a critical service; many children in existing projects are on the child protection register and the majority are seen as being 'in need'. There is strong evidence that parenting programmes can improve parenting skills and have lasting effects in reducing bad behaviour, even in cases where parents are initially reluctant to accept help.

Local authorities can provide further information on projects operating in their area.

[1] para 47A(3) Schedule 1 Housing Act 1985; para 12ZA (3) Schedule 1 Housing Act 1988, as inserted by s.297 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[2] s.297 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No. 2 and Transitional, Saving and Transitory Provisions) Order 2008 SI 2008/3068.

[3] s.297 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[4] s.297(5) Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[5] s.297(7) Housing and Regeneration Act 2008.

[6] paras 31/33 Guidance on the use of Family Intervention Tenancies, January 2009.

[7] Allocation of Housing (England)(Amendment)(Family Intervention Tenancies) Regulations 2008 SI 2008/3015.

[8] para 4ZA sch 1 Housing Act 1985; para 12ZA part 1 sch1 Housing Act 1988; Allocation of Housing (England)(Amendment)(Family Intervention Tenancies) Regulations 2008 SI 2008/3015.

[9] paras 58/61 Guidance on the use of Family Intervention Tenancies, January 2009.

[10] s.20C Housing Act 1988 as inserted by s.163(2) Localism Act 2011.

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