The government has passed new laws which will mean some big changes for council tenants in the future.
The council has expressed its opposition to these changes as we feel they will have a negative impact, reducing affordable housing and making living in Islington more difficult for some of our residents. We are supporting tenants as much as possible with these changes, held a well-attended public meeting in March 2016, and have written to all tenants to advise them of the future changes.
We promised to update tenants whenever we found out more details from the government, so here is a summary of what we know so far:
What are the main changes?
An update on Tenant Tax (also known as Pay to Stay)
On 21 November 2016 the government announced that it had reviewed its policy and had listened to the views of tenants and councils. Tenant tax – or pay to stay – is no longer compulsory. This means that councils and Housing Associations can decide if they want to introduce it.
Islington Council opposes tenant tax. We do not think it is fair to tenants.
Islington Council will not be introducing tenant tax. This means that tenants in households earning more than £40,000 will not need to pay more rent in the form of tenant tax to stay in their homes.
The council is asking all housing associations who manage homes in Islington not to bring in the tenant tax / pay to stay. If you are a Housing Association tenant in Islington you should check with them.
Fixed term tenancies rather than lifetime tenancies:
Another change being made by the government is ending lifetime tenancies, though all existing lifetime tenancies will be honoured. We expect that at some point in 2018 we will have to start offering fixed term tenancies of between two and ten years. Once we have all the details from the government we will be explaining the changes to those applying for housing and looking to move home.
If you have a lifetime tenancy you will not be affected unless you choose to move home
Family members (excluding spouses and partners) succeeding to a tenancy after the tenant dies will have to be given fixed term tenancies
The council will have to review the tenant’s circumstances towards the end of a fixed term tenancy, to decide if they still have a need for the property they are living in
We hope that we will be able to give longer tenancies to families with young children or those whose situation is unlikely to change over time, but we are waiting to find out from the government whether they will allow this
Selling higher-value council homes
The council will be forced to sell its higher value homes when they become empty. We estimate that we will have to sell at least 300 properties each year. This means the council will end up with far fewer properties to let to people who need them. We have not been told when this is likely to start or the detailed rules.
The new laws also cover:
Right to buy extension: Housing Association tenants will be able to buy their homes at a large discount. The government has not yet said who will qualify.
Starter homes: A new type of housing that will be sold at a 20% discount to first time buyers under 40 years old.
How can I find out more about the Housing and Planning Act 2016?
Read the new Act on the legislation website. Part 4 is about social housing in England