Agenda item

Tenancy Policy

Report of the Director City Devlopment




The Assistant Director Housing Service presented the report which summarised the revised Tenancy Strategy and Policy following a review and consultation. It is proposed that the revised Tenancy Strategy and Policy 2023-2027 be adopted and implemented. A copy of the Strategy and Policy documents was appended.

The Council as a social landlord, had to have due regard as to how tenancies were managed with a Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Policy.


Particular reference was made to:-


·         the proposed change of moving from a fixed term to a lifetime tenancy approach. The Council had introduced a fixed term tenancy policy in 2015 with a two to five years tenancy and introductory period for the first 12 months, provided the rent was paid and the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement were met.

·         the lifetime tenancy scheme was set out in paragraph 6.6 of the report. It was established that following a review of tenants housing circumstances that only 2% of tenants had to have their tenancy ended. A number had moved to a smaller or larger property, but the number of properties returned to let on the Devon Home Choice register was small.

·         there were 418 responses to the consultation with 81% being supportive of lifetime tenancies. Reversion to the lifetime tenancy with a probationary period was around the Council’s Corporate priorities on building communities to enable those tenants to continue to engage in their local area.


The Assistant Director Housing responded to the following enquiries: -


·         there are very few non-statutory successions and he would obtain the answer.  They will assess their person’s housing need and if they move into a property and it was less than 12 months, if their need was less they would facilitate them moving to a smaller property to free up the larger property or the succession would not be able to go ahead.

·         he explained that the succession is where the tenant passes away and someone remains in the property and their succession to the property. There can only be one succession on a tenancy. The law is that the individual must have lived there for 12 months and must be a partner to reassign the tenancy. Children were not included, as that changed in 2012 after the Localism Act.

·         there should be evidence of co habitation, such as joint household bills but the team took a sensible approach.

·         there was no automatic move to a lifetime tenancy and if they had been there less than 12 months there would be a case review to establish if that was an appropriate property for them to have.

·         the Member suggested that the joint to sole tenancies should be reported, and the Assistant Director would report back and take forward if Members saw that as a useful measure to see what is happening in the stock in the future.

·         he clarified the term succession which is where someone dies and succeed the tenancy and an assignment was when the tenancy goes from joint to sole and sole to joint. 

·         the direct letting figure was in the public domain on the Devon Home Choice portal, but he could also provide that information. An example of a direct match is where someone is in hospital and returning to their existing home is not possible and move to find alternative accommodation to allow them to leave hospital and that is the exceptional circumstance when they use the direct match process. The vast majority use the Devon Home Choice portal.

·         with the regeneration of areas those people will be offered alternative and similar accommodation from the Council’s stock at the same rent and receive a financial remuneration to assist with moving home, as well as a decamp officer to support people moving house. We are obliged to find alternative accommodation and the opportunity to return to the regenerated area.

·         a number of downsizing schemes have been offered in the past, which was at one point was up to £2,000 but the take up was still low. He had spoken personally to people who did not wish to move when they had lived there all their lives. Currently there was an offer of £500 removal fee for people to downsize as well as access to the decamp officer for support.


 Members also made the following comments:-


·         more houses were needed as there was little turnover in the waiting list and the Member understood the dilemma of those that remain in a property all of the lives. it was appreciated that the ending of a tenancy was difficult, and the lifetime tenancy was a sensible approach but there was underoccupancy in both the private and social sector against the number on the Council Housing waiting list. The Member hoped that those people with less need for the space might be encouraged to downsize their Council property.  The Member was disappointed over the outcomes of the fixed term tenancy approach but welcomed the move to the lifetime tenancy approach. 

·         of concern for the current housing market with not enough social housing being built. The Member hoped there would be cross party working to discuss this further.


The Assistant Director Housing was invited to respond to an advance question from a Member in relation to Equalities Impact Assessment (EQIA) and of any impact on those aged 16 to 18 years and on care leavers, in accessing housing. He stated that tenancies were only issues to those over the age of 18 years. He thanked the Member for the comments, and they will amend the EQIA to reflect the comments around young people.  Discussions were currently taking place with colleagues from Devon County Council over the issue of housing and moving on of care leavers and housing and the support network and the discussions are still taking place. It would be unusual to offer a tenancy for someone under 18 years, a guarantor would be required either from Audit Social Services or a parent or grandparent.


RECOMMENDED that Scrutiny Committee and Executive note and Council approve the new Tenancy Strategy and Policy as summarised in the report.


Supporting documents: