The City Council has developed a new draft Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Policy 2018-2023 to replace the existing one which expires this year.
A public consultation on the draft tenancy strategy and policy will run for a period of four weeks from 21 March to 19 April 2018.
The Localism Act 2011 requires every local authority to have a tenancy strategy, which is a plan that sets out how the social housing in an area is let and how long tenancies should be granted for. It applies to all social housing providers, including the City Council and housing associations, providing direction on:
- the kinds of tenancies they grant,
- the circumstances in which they will grant a tenancy of a particular kind,
- where they grant tenancies for a certain term, the lengths of the terms, and
- the circumstances in which they will grant a further tenancy on the coming to an end of an existing tenancy.
Since the City Council’s existing Tenancy Strategy and Policy Statement was published in 2013, there have been changes to Government policy and new legislation - the Housing and Planning Act 2016 - has been introduced.
Currently, local authorities and social housing providers can choose to offer lifetime (secure or assured) tenancies and fixed term tenancies. The Council’s new draft Tenancy Strategy considers the new regulations introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which proposes a mandatory requirement for all local authorities to offer flexible fixed term tenancies in the future. However, Government guidance is still awaited and is expected to provide clarity on the length of any mandatory fixed term offered by councils, and also where there may be any discretion to offer lifetime (secure) tenancies.
The City Council’s new Tenancy Strategy and Policy aims to:
- Promote Oxford City’s housing vision with a focus to provide social rented tenancies.
- Ensure that affordable housing providers adhere to the new Tenancy Strategy to the benefit of the local community.
- Ensure that affordable housing providers are to let any new tenancies in Oxford at genuinely affordable rents i.e. in line with social rent or at Affordable Rents capped at Local Housing Allowance (or equivalent measure) levels, and
- Create sustainable, mixed and balanced communities.
To develop the Tenancy Strategy and Tenancy Policy for 2018 onwards, City Council officers undertook an evaluation of the Council’s practices and as a benchmark, the practices of a sample of another 10 similar sized stock-owning local authorities in England. The majority of local authorities preferred lifetime (secure) tenancies or a mixture of secure and fixed term tenancies.
Since its existing Tenancy Strategy is due to end this year, and in the absence of Government guidance on mandatory use of Flexible Fixed term Tenancies, the Council has committed in its draft strategy and policy to continue offering only lifetime (secure) tenancies until there is a legislative change or grant funding requirement to offer an alternative tenancy term.
If the Government issues guidance in the future in relation to the implementation of mandatory Flexible Fixed Term Tenancies, the Council will revise its draft strategy to reflect the new guidance.
Councillor Mike Rowley, Board Member for Housing, said: “Our ambition is to make Oxford a city where people have access to affordable and high quality homes that enable them to build settled, safe and healthy lives, within sustainable and thriving communities. Our new Tenancy Strategy will help us achieve this, and we will shortly be consulting with private registered providers of social housing in Oxford, Council Tenants, stakeholders and members of the public. Consultation responses will be used to inform any changes to the strategy before the documents can be formally adopted.”