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Tenancy Policy

Introduction

 This policy sets out the type of tenancies Selby & District Housing Trust (the Trust) will grant and the length of any tenancy term. All our homes are in the Selby District so we will have regard to Selby District Council’s adopted Tenancy Strategy (a joint North Yorkshire Tenancy Strategy), which sets out what is expected in social landlords’ individual Tenancy Policies

 Aim of the policy

The aim of the policy is to:

  • Clearly set out what tenancies we offer
  • Target local households in housing need through our allocations scheme
  • Adopt a value for money approach to managing our tenancies

Background

There is sufficient flexibility built into the Selby/North Yorkshire Tenancy Strategy to allow for individual landlords to respond to local circumstances. The strategic aim of the North Yorkshire Tenancy Strategy is:

To enable Housing Providers in North Yorkshire to co-ordinate their policies and practices to produce tenancies for customers who meet local housing needs, provide support to those who need it, improve choice and contribute to sustainable communities and economic growth and recovery.

There is a requirement for every social landlord to develop a Tenancy Policy which sets out the types of tenancy they will grant, and this should include detail of:

  • How the needs of those who are vulnerable by reason of age, disability or illness, and households with children are taken into account including through tenancies which provide a reasonable degree of stability
  • The advice and assistance to be given to tenants to find alternative accommodation if a fixed term tenancy is not renewed

Selby & District Housing Trust Tenancy Policy

The Policy is set out in two sections for ease of reference; Tenancies and Allocations .

Tenancies

The Trust has charitable status and its objective is to provide homes for local people in housing need. However, whilst we recognise that

people may at some stage of their life need social housing, this may only be a short term need. Consequently, in order to ensure best use of our stock, we have decided to offer only fixed term tenancies.

Tenancy Type

The Trust intends to use 5 year fixed term (Assured Shorthold) tenancies for all new lettings. We consider that 5 years is sufficient to provide a reasonable degree of stability to vulnerable households, given that we will consider granting a further 5 year tenancy following review.

Minimum length of Tenancy

As suggested by the North Yorkshire Tenancy Strategy, we will offer an initial 5 year tenancy in all circumstances; we consider that a 5 year term offers reasonable security to most households and is considerably more secure than the average initial tenancy granted in the private sector.

The Localism Act allows shorter tenancies to be granted of no less than two years in exceptional circumstances. We may grant a 2 year tenancy where, following review, we are willing to offer a second or subsequent 5 year fixed term tenancy and the tenant requests 2 years.

Tenancy review and advice and assistance at end of fixed term

The tenancy review is an opportunity for us to consider with the tenant the conduct of the tenancy, whether the current home still best meets the household’s needs, and whether the household is able financially to move on. It will be carried out by trained Officers.

We will carry out the review at least 6 months before the tenancy is due to come to an end. This is considered sufficient time for a tenant to find alternative housing if a new tenancy is not to be offered.

Following review, at the end of a fixed term tenancy, a new fixed term will be considered if the following household circumstances are unchanged since they were originally housed:

  • The property still matches the current housing needs of the tenant and their household (assessed against the Trust’s current allocations scheme) and
  • The household income/savings do not exceed the cap specified in the Trust’s allocations scheme at the time of review

If a further tenancy is to be offered, this may be a further 5 year fixed term, or it may be a 2 year fixed term if both parties are in agreement. A further review in accordance with clause 5.3 will apply at the end of each subsequent fixed term.

If, for whatever reason, the tenancy continues past the original fixed term period a periodic tenancy will be created. Where agreement has been reached that a tenant may remain in occupation, the periodic tenancy will run on indefinitely. The Trust will always prefer a fixed term tenancy to be agreed wherever possible.

Where the Trust decides not to offer another fixed term tenancy following the Tenancy review, Notice will be served as soon as a decision is reached and in any event no less than 2 months before the tenancy is due to end.

The notice will state that the fixed term tenancy (AST) will be coming to an end, will advise that the Trust requires possession of the property and the date after which court proceedings may be begun. An accompanying letter will set out the reasons why a new tenancy is not being offered, and will signpost the tenant to advice and assistance to find alternative accommodation from Selby District Council’s Housing Options service.

If the tenant refuses to move when the notice period expires a court order will be applied for and the usual eviction process followed.

Complaints

Following review, a tenant can request re-consideration of the Trust’s decision about whether to offer a new fixed term tenancy. A review can only be requested on the basis that the offer does not comply with our policy.

As with other complaints, the case will be dealt with by a more senior officer who was not involved in the original decision.

Allocations

Selby and District Housing Trust has decided to join the North Yorkshire (Choice Based Lettings Partnership) HomeChoice, which launched a joint allocations scheme in 2011. Within the scheme, the Trust will prioritise applicants with a local connection to Selby district.

This has been developed jointly with regard to the Codes of Guidance issued to local housing authorities in England, and the obligations imposed by legislation including but not restricted to

  • The Housing Act 196
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Freedom of Information Act 2000
  • Children Act 1989
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Crime and Disorder Act 1998
  • Homelessness Act 2002
  • Equality Act 2010

It also takes into account the following guidance

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Housing – September 2006)
  • Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local authorities in England 2012 and is compatible with local, sub-regional and regional housing and tenancy strategies together with the North Yorkshire Housing Strategy.

For detail of our Allocations scheme please refer to the North Yorkshire HomeChoice Policy.

Tenancy Fraud

We will not tolerate fraud which allows applicants to prioritise themselves unfairly over other applicants.

This will include but is not restricted to incorrect or false information being provided on an application for housing. Action may include loss of the home, in which case it is possible that an application to the Council as homeless may be turned down following assessment as the loss of housing may be deemed to be intentional.

The Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 is a new piece of legislation which makes it a criminal offence for tenants to sub-let or part with possession of their socially rented home.

Equalities

 An Equalities Impact Assessment has been completed.

Reviewing the Tenancy Policy

This policy will be monitored and reviewed annually.