Tenancy Policy

Policy reference number: POL-HOU-TENURE
Version number: 3
Date applies from: 30/6/14


1. Aim of Policy

1.1. Our tenancy policy aims to achieve a practical balance between the high levels of housing need, the under supply of social housing, the changing demographic of our customer base and the offer of appropriate tenure to our customers. We want to continue to:
• Meet the requirements of the HCA Consumer Standards in relation to Tenancies;
• Contribute to the development of sustainable communities;
• Assist Salford City Council and its partners in meeting statutory homelessness duties, its Tenancy Strategy and its vision for the City;
• Provide flexible and affordable accommodation options that meet the needs and expectations of our customers; and
• Promote social inclusion.

1.2. Our tenancy policy sets out our approach in respect of:
• Tenure, including mortgage rescue, decants and succession and Properties leased from private owners (Lease & Repair);
• Affordable and social rents;
• Reducing homelessness through working with Salford to find alternative homes for customers and making effective use of our stock through promotion of under occupancy schemes;
• Supporting tenants struggling to pay rent following changes in benefit regulations;
• The relationship between our local lettings policies and applicants whose lifestyles contribute to a sustainable community

2. Policy

2.1. This policy refers to Salford City Council’s Tenancy Strategy. Officers will review the policy earlier than its formal review date if any conflict becomes apparent between the policy and the local authority’s strategy.

2.2. This policy applies to all tenants of rented accommodation and includes members of the tenant’s household and their visitors.

2.3. City West will seek to make best use of its stock through the delivery of its ‘Right People, Right Home, Right Choice Strategy’. Equally, City West will support its customers through the changes implemented as a result of the Welfare Reform Act.

2.4. City West will seek to take account of our vulnerable customers in the implementation of this Policy by having due regard to the Tenancy Sustainability and Vulnerable Customers Strategy.

2.5. Tenure
2.5.1. As a general principle, City West will seek to grant the most secure tenure available. For Lease and Repair tenancies security of tenure will be limited to an assured shorthold tenancy. Equally, where permission is sought to amend a tenancy (to include additional joint tenants, for example), we will not grant permission if the change will erode the security of tenure of the original tenant; unless there are other substantial benefits for that tenant.

2.5.2. All new customers will be given a Starter Tenancy with specific exceptions listed below where an assured (periodic assured non-short hold) tenancy will be granted. Starter Tenancies ensure that new tenants, their families and visitors know exactly what is expected from them if they are to become an assured tenant with City West. City West retains the right to extend the period of the starter tenancy by up to 6 months as an alternative to the fixed term tenancy provisions set out below:
• The exceptions are:
• Sheltered/Housing for Older People homes;
• Wheelchair adapted homes;
• Homes significantly adapted for our incoming tenant;
• Tenants transferring, being assigned or succeeding to an existing assured tenancy and
• Lease and Repair Properties
• After a Starter Tenancy, we will always give an assured (periodic assured non short hold) tenancy unless:
• The tenant, or one of the joint tenants, has limited leave to remain in the UK in which case a rolling assured short hold tenancy will be granted to coincide with the length of the leave to remain;
• The home is covered by a local lettings arrangement – the home will be let in line with the arrangement in force at the time which may include fixed term tenancies.
• The rights of assured and fixed term tenants will be set out in their tenancy agreements and we will aim to give all tenants the same tenancy rights including succession, assignment, transfer and mutual exchange;
• In the very limited circumstances that City West looks to grant a fixed term tenancy, a written procedure will set out in what circumstances such tenancies will be terminated, extended or replaced by assured tenancies including a right of appeal. All customers affected will also be given a written statement setting out these details;
• A Section 21 notice may be used to end a Starter tenancy in response to breaches of that tenancy. We will offer a right to request a review of the decision to serve such a notice;
• Family Intervention Tenancies will also be utilised to combat ASB/nuisance in appropriate cases;
• Where a decision is made to end a fixed term tenancy, City West will ensure that Housing Options advice is offered to the household;
• For properties acquired under the Mortgage Rescue scheme, existing customers will be subject to the prevailing agreement at the point that ownership transfers, at the end of the relevant fixed term tenancy granted under the mortgage rescue scheme customers may be granted City West tenancies, as set out in this section.
• For properties that are leased from private owners (under the Lease and Repair scheme) an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) will be the only tenure type available for the duration of a tenants occupancy. As the property is leased from a property owner for a 5 year period an assured tenancy cannot be offered. The AST will be granted initially for 6 months and will thereafter be for weekly tenancies for periods of 12 months.
• Use of a section 21 notice to regain possession of a property let under the lease and repair scheme will not be limited to ASB and may be used for any breach of tenancy or when nearing the end of the lease agreement with the property owner.

2.6. Affordable, market and social rents
2.6.1. City West will offer properties at either social or affordable rents. All properties let under the Mortgage Rescue scheme and a proportion of new and re-let properties will be offered at affordable rents. The proportion of new and re-let properties to be offered at affordable rents and the level of the rent (up to 80% of market rent), will be agreed periodically by the Board and in line with HCA grant funding requirements for conversions.

2.6.2. No affordable rent will be set lower than social rent.

2.6.3. City West has a Local Lettings procedure where lettings arrangements are tailored to the specific needs of the neighbourhood or group of properties. These arrangements are locally agreed and monitored and subject to periodic review.

2.6.4. As part of our wider housing offer to customers, the association may consider applying market rents under a local lettings arrangement.

2.7. Decants
2.7.1. When a household needs to be decanted to another property City West will ensure that they retain the same level of security of tenure at their temporary property and charged the same amount of rent.

2.8. Mutual Exchanges and Transfers
2.8.1. A customer must obtain permission from City West before a mutual exchange can proceed. We will operate a mutual exchange procedure, and we will ensure our allocations policy gives our existing tenants priority if they are looking to move because of changes in their circumstances and/or household size, particularly in the light of welfare reform.

2.9. Succession
2.9.1. Where a joint tenant dies, the tenancy passes to a surviving joint tenant. There can be no further statutory succession thereafter. Where a sole tenant dies, a spouse occupying the property as his/her only or principal home immediately before the death, succeeds. A person living with the tenant as a husband, wife or same sex partner [cohabitee] is treated as a spouse and thus also succeeds if living with the tenant at the time of death. No other family member has a statutory right to succeed.

2.9.2. However City West will consider requests from family members who would be eligible and qualify for re-housing. Following agreed guidelines the decision to grant a tenancy to a family member lies with the Regional Manager.

2.9.3. As stated in the Offer Document, transferring tenants of Salford City Council who became a tenant of City West Housing Trust at transfer will retain their right to succeed; even if this right has previously been exercised.

3. How the Policy will be delivered

3.1. The policy will be implemented through the Neighbourhood Teams and monitored through the Local Area Panels.

3.2. If staff become aware that there are problems with effective operation of the policy or the associated procedures, they should report this to the Policy Owner. This feedback will be incorporated into the policy / procedural review process.

4. Related Procedures

4.1. The following procedures need to be followed to implement the policy:
• Allocations Procedure;
• Local Lettings Procedure;
• Procedure to be used at the end of fixed term tenancies;
• Succession and Decant procedures.