Tenancy Strategy Glossary of Terms

This glossary is intended as a skeleton for the seven districts in the Cambridge housing sub-region to use in their respective tenancy strategies. The glossary aims to support public access and understanding of the issues discussed in policies and strategies. Legal terms have been avoided wherever possible to help understanding, however the “sense” of the legal phrases has been kept.

Sources are provided to enable the reader to go direct to the source if necessary, enabling access to the more technical definitions if needed.

Tenancy law is a complex area, this note does not in any way constitute legal advice and must not be used as such.

A to Z

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 

A

Affordability

The terms ‘affordability’ and ‘affordable housing’ have different meanings.

  • ‘Affordability’ is a measure of whether housing may be afforded by certain groups of households
  • ‘Affordable housing’ refers to particular products outside the main housing market. 

Read Planning Policy Statement 3 (Housing) for more details.

Affordable housing

Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Affordable housing should:

  • Meet the needs of eligible households including availability at a cost low enough for them to afford, determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices.
  • Include provision for the home to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or, if these restrictions are lifted, for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

Affordable rented housing

Rented housing let by registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. 

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

Affordable Rent homes will be allocated in the same way as social rent properties. Existing lettings arrangements operated by local authorities and Private Registered Providers will continue to apply. The allocation framework provides some flexibility which local authorities and Private Registered Providers can use in relation to Affordable Rent so they meet local needs and priorities in the most effective way possible.

Affordable Rent is not subject to the national rent regime but comes under other rent controls that require a rent is set of no more than 80% of the local market rent (including service charges where applicable). The rent level can only be “rebased” (changed) once a tenancy comes to an end and a new tenancy is issued (to the same, or to a different tenant).

Many new homes built from 2012 onwards will also be let at affordable rent.

Read Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities in England: Consultation; Department for Communities and Local Government; London; January 2012 for more details.

Allocation

The allocation of housing by a housing authority is defined as:

  • Selecting a person to be a secure or introductory tenant of housing accommodation held by that housing authority
  • Nominating a person to be a secure or introductory tenant of housing accommodation held by another housing authority; or
  • Nominating a person to be an assured tenant of housing accommodation held by a Private
    Registered Provider. 

Read Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities in England: Consultation; Department for Communities and Local Government; London; January 2012 for more details.

Allocation scheme

Housing authorities are required by the 1996 Housing Act to have an allocation scheme to determine priorities, and to define the procedures to be followed in allocating housing accommodation. They must allocate housing in accordance with the allocation scheme. The allocations scheme must cover all aspects of the allocation procedure.

All housing authorities must have an allocation scheme, regardless of whether or not they retain ownership of housing stock and whether or not they contract out the delivery of any of their allocation functions (for example, even if council housing has been transferred to a housing association, the housing authority must still have an allocation scheme).

When framing or modifying their allocation scheme, housing authorities must have regard to their current tenancy and homelessness strategies.

The 1996 Housing Act requires a housing authority to:

  • Publish a summary of their allocation scheme and, if requested, to provide a free copy of that summary
  • Make the full scheme available for inspection at their principal office and, if requested, provide a copy of it on payment of a reasonable fee. It is recommended that authorities also publish their full scheme on their website.
  • Make sure that, if an alteration is made to a scheme reflecting a major change of policy, the authority must (within a reasonable time) ensure those likely to be affected by the change shall have it brought to their attention. For example a major policy change would include, for example, any change affecting the priority given to a large number of people being considered for social housing.
  • Send a copy of the draft scheme or proposed alteration, to every Private Registered Provider with which they have nomination arrangements, giving reasonable opportunity to comment on the proposals; before adopting an allocation scheme, or altering an existing scheme.

Housing authorities should include all those who may be affected by, or have an interest in, the way social housing is allocated when consulting on a new allocation scheme or making major changes to it. It will be important to engage with a wide range of partners in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors, as well as applicants, existing tenants and the wider community. 

Read Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities in England: Consultation; Department for Communities and Local Government; London; January 2012 for more details.

Assured shorthold tenancy

In general, assured shorthold tenants:

  • live in a hostel or supported housing
  • had their accommodation arranged by the council when they made a homeless application
  • have had a secure or assured tenancy demoted by the courts are in the first 12 months of a starter tenancy, or
  • their tenancy started after 26 February 1997 and they are not an assured tenant.

An assured shorthold tenancy is a tenancy that gives you a legal right to live in accommodation for a period of time. The tenancy might be set for a period (known as a fixed-term phase of the tenancy) such as six months. Or it might roll on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis (this is known as the periodic phase of the tenancy). [4]

Assured tenant

The term ‘assured tenant’ includes a person with an assured shorthold tenancy, and a person with a full assured tenancy, and includes Affordable Rent properties.

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

In general, housing association tenants are all assured tenants, unless:

  • the accommodation is not self-contained
  • the tenancy started before 15 January 1989 (in which case they may be secure tenants)
  • they have been given a starter tenancy for the first year and this is yet to finish
  • the tenancy has been demoted because of antisocial behaviour
  • they live in a hostel, housing where support is provided, or temporary accommodation arranged for them by the council when they made a homelessness application
  • they work for the housing association and the home comes with the job. [5]

C

Conversion

Housing associations and local authorities are able to agree with the HCA to “convert” a proportion of their homes, when they come up for re-let, to Affordable Rent. This helps fund the development of new homes in future. 

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

This means that some homes, owned and managed by a housing association, can be changed over to Affordable Rent when the current tenant moves out, and before it is let to another tenant.

D

Demoted tenancy

In general, a tenant has a demoted tenancy if:

  • they used to have an assured or secure tenancy, and
  • the housing association got a 'demotion order' from the court, and
  • less than a year has passed since the order was made

If a tenancy has been demoted, the housing association should have confirmed this in writing and sent the tenant information about their rights. The tenant should also have received letters from the court, confirming how long the tenancy has been demoted for. [6]

Demotions: for housing associations

A tenant can be “demoted” for a set period of time, as a measure to try to improve behaviour, hopefully avoiding the landlord seeking possession of the property (i.e. through eviction).

At the end of the demotion period if the problem has been resolved, a tenant who was on a fixed term assured shorthold tenancy automatically gets a periodic assured tenancy (not another fixed term assured shorthold tenancy). If another fixed term assured shorthold tenancy is required, the landlord must serve a notice on the tenant before the end of the demotion period, informing them
that the new tenancy is to be a fixed term tenancy and specifying the length of the fixed term and any other terms for the tenancy.

Demotions: for local authorities

If a flexible tenancy is demoted and the demotion period is completed successfully, the demoted tenancy will automatically become a secure tenant, not a flexible tenant. If a flexible tenancy is required, the landlord must serve a notice on the tenant before the end of the demotion period, informing them that the tenancy is to be a fixed term tenancy and specifying the length of the fixed
term and other express terms of the tenancy. 

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

The government department in charge of housing and related matters. Their website says:
“The Department sets policy on supporting local government; communities and neighbourhoods; regeneration; housing; planning, building and the environment; and fire”. [7]

E

Eligibility and qualification for housing

Housing authorities must consider all applications for social housing that are made in accordance with the procedural requirements of the authority’s allocation scheme. In considering applications, authorities must establish if an applicant is eligible for an allocation of accommodation, and if he or she qualifies for an allocation of accommodation.

The provisions concerning eligibility and qualification for an allocation of accommodation are contained in s.160ZA of the 1996 Housing Act. [3]

F

Flexible (or fixed term) tenancies

‘Fixed term tenancies’ is a term used for all tenancies offered for a specified period of time, compared to more traditional ‘lifetime tenancies’ for social housing.

Once adopted, the new ‘national tenancy standard’ will require providers to offer a tenancy for a fixed term of at least 5 years, other than in exceptional circumstances where they may offer a tenancy for no less than 2 years. The provider must set out such “exceptional circumstances” in their tenancy policy.

“Flexible” is the word being used in government documents to describe the new ability for housing providers to let homes to tenants on a “less than lifetime” basis. In the past, a social letting would generally be for life (often once an introductory or starter period had passed) but now there is the possibility of offering a tenancy for 2, 5 or more years. This would enable a review and a re-evaluation of the rent level.

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

Ending the tenancy at the end of the fixed term

Whether a tenant will be able to remain in social housing at the end of the fixed term will depend on the provider’s tenancy policy, which should set out the circumstances in which another tenancy would or would not be given at the end of a fixed term. Where another tenancy is not being offered, the provider must offer advice and assistance to help the tenant find alternative housing. The nature of this support should also be set out in the provider’s tenancy policy.

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

Flexible (or fixed term) tenancies for housing associations

Currently housing associations cannot generally offer fixed term tenancies at a social rent, as regulations require that they ‘offer and issue the most secure form of tenancy compatible with the purpose of the housing and the sustainability of the community’. This means providers must grant ‘lifetime tenancies’ to the majority of new tenants in general needs, social rented housing. However housing associations can now offer fixed term tenancies at an Affordable Rent as part of their contract with the homes and communities agency to deliver new homes as part of the Affordable Homes Programme.

The TSA is consulting on revisions to the Tenancy Standard. Instead of requiring providers to offer the most secure form of tenure compatible with the purpose of the housing and the sustainability of the community, they plan to require providers to ‘grant tenancies which are compatible with the purpose of the accommodation, the needs of individual households, the sustainability of the community and the efficient use of their housing stock’. If this change is approved housing associations will also be able to offer fixed term tenancies to any new tenants, but only if they choose to do so. The providers’ tenancy policy will need to address these requirements and to set
out the circumstances when different types of tenancy will be used. Legally, housing associations do not need a new type of tenancy to grant fixed term tenancies. They may simply grant fixed term assured shorthold tenancies.

Housing association ending the tenancy at the end of the fixed term

Where a housing association proposes not to grant another tenancy at the end of the fixed term, the Localism Act provides that the court may not grant possession unless the tenant has been given at least 6 months’ notice in writing of the landlord’s decision and how to obtain help and advice. This is in addition to the usual requirement for a section 21 notice. No right of review is set out in the Localism Act for housing association tenants at the end of a fixed term. However, the draft revised Tenancy standard requires that an appeal or complaints procedure is available, so should be given and set up in the same way as for local authorities.

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

Flexible (or fixed term) tenancies for local authorities

In April 2012 onwards, parts of the Localism Act will come into force so a new type of tenancy, called a flexible tenancy, will be available. Following changes to regulations, these flexible tenancies can be used by local authorities.

Generally, tenants with a flexible tenancy will have many of the same rights as other secure tenants, which are set out in the Housing Act 1985. These rights include the Right to Buy and the Right to Repair. The same grounds for possession will all be available and could be used during the fixed term, for example if there are rent arrears or a breach of tenancy. However, the tenancy agreement will determine whether tenants with a flexible tenancy have other rights enjoyed by secure tenants, including the right to improve their property (the statutory right to improve will not apply). Flexible tenants will not have a statutory right to be compensated for improvements. All new secure tenancies (including flexible tenancies) will only have a statutory right of one succession to
a spouse or partner and not also to other family members. Existing secure tenants’ right to succession will not be affected.

When flexible tenancies are available they will only be used where local authorities choose to do so. They will only be available to new tenants. The rights of existing secure and introductory tenants are unchanged.

Ending a local authority flexible tenancy

The procedure for local authorities who decide not to grant another tenancy at the end of the fixed term is set out in the Localism Act.

A court can only refuse possession if the correct procedure has not been followed by the landlord or if the court is satisfied the decision not to grant another tenancy was ‘wrong in law’. There are 3 conditions to get a court order to end the tenancy:

  1. The fixed term has ended
  2. The tenant has been given no less than six months notice in writing, stating that the landlord does not propose to grant another tenancy on the expiry of the fixed term; giving the reasons why and informing the tenant of their right to request a review and the timescale for this
  3. The tenant has been given no less than two month’s notice in writing stating that the landlord requires possession of the dwelling house.

If the tenant refuses to vacate the property possession proceedings should be taken.

Read Larner, Pipe, Tucker; The practical implications of tenure reform Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012 for more details.

H

Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)

Describes itself as
“Working with our local partners, we use our skills and investment in housing and regeneration to meet the needs of local communities; creating new affordable homes and thriving places”. [8]

Hostel accommodation

If someone needs a place for the night, they may be able to stay in an emergency hostel or night shelter. These are usually run by housing associations, charities or the local council. The length of time someone can stay will vary. Most hostels can offer a place for a few nights, but some may offer a few months. Most hostels will also try to help find somewhere more permanent before the end of a stay. They may be able to help get a place in a longer-term hostel or special 'move on' accommodation for people who aren't ready to live on their own yet. [9]

See also temporary accommodation.

Housing association

In the United Kingdom, housing associations are private, generally non-profit making organisations that provide low-cost "social housing" for people in need of a home. Trading surpluses are used to maintain existing housing and to help finance new homes. Although independent they are regulated by the state (through the Tenant Services Authority) and commonly receive public
funding. They are the United Kingdom's major providers of new affordable housing for rent, while many also run shared ownership schemes to help those who cannot afford to buy a home outright.

Housing associations provide a wide range of housing, some managing large estates of housing for families, while the smallest may perhaps manage a single scheme of housing for older people.

Much of the supported accommodation in the UK is also provided by housing associations, with specialist projects for people with mental health or learning disabilities, with substance misuse problems, people who were previously homeless, young people, ex-offenders and women fleeing domestic violence.

Housing association and Registered Social Landlord are also known as Private Registered Providers.

References

[1] - “PPS3: Housing” found on the GOV.UK website

[2] - Larner, Pipe, Tucker; “The practical implications of tenure reform” Chartered Institute of Housing; Coventry; January 2012

[3] - “Allocation of accommodation: guidance for local housing authorities in England: Consultation”; Department for Communities and Local Government; London; January 2012 

[4] - Assured shorthold tenancies on Shelter England's website

[5] - Assured tenancies on Shelter England's website

[6] - http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/renting_and_leasehold/housing_association_tenancies/demoted_tenancies

[7] - www.communities.gov.uk

[8] - http://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk

[9] - http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/emergency_accommodation/hostels_and_nightshelters

[10] - http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/renting_and_leasehold/housing_association_tenancies/starter_tenancies

[11] - www.tenantservicesauthority.org/upload/doc/RICS_rental_valuation_note_20110118140714.doc

[12] - http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/finding_a_place_to_live/housing_with_support

[13] - http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/renting_and_leasehold/council_tenancies/temporary_housing_from_the_council

Was this web page helpful?

Feedback form

Your feedback
Your details
Recaptcha