Housing and Planning Act 2016

The Housing and Planning Act became law in May 2016.

The main aims of the Act are to:

  • Improve local authorities’ ability to get the best use out of social housing by focusing on those who need it the most for as long as they need it.
  • Fixed term tenancies will make it easier for social landlords to support older tenants move to more manageable sized accommodation, freeing up larger homes for families
  • Tenants who need long term support will be provided with more appropriate tenancies as their needs change over time
  • Households will be supported to make the transition into home ownership where they can

This briefing sets out the provisions of the Act that relate to social housing.

At this stage much of the detail has not yet been issued and we are waiting for the statutory guidance to be released.

No changes have taken place yet so there are no immediate effects, however there will be some major changes for council tenants.

The changes are:

We will update this site as soon as we have more details.

Mandatory end of lifetime secure tenancies

In future, secure tenancies will have to be for a fixed term and will not automatically be renewed. A review of the tenant’s circumstances will be carried out at the end of the fixed term.

All new council tenants will be offered a fixed term tenancies from between 2-5 years, up to 10 years for some, including those with a disability, and families with children of school age.

Statutory guidance will set out the circumstances in which we will be expected to use tenancies of different lengths.

Existing secure tenants with a tenancy start date prior to the date of this policy retain their lifetime tenancies.

Existing secure tenants required to move home will be offered another secure tenancy rather than a Flexible Tenancy.

However, where secure tenants choose to move, they may be given a flexible tenancy, except in limited circumstances.

Those moving via mutual exchange may be able to retain their lifetime tenancy. But there will be further grounds for refusal of an exchange by a social housing provider.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has set up a working group of 20 councils to help develop regulations and guidance on fixed-term tenancies. It is still expected to come into effect from April 2017.

Removal of some succession rights

The legislation also makes changes to who has the right to inherit the tenancy under succession. We are waiting for more information on the following.

Succeeding family members who are the spouse, civil partner or partner of the tenant who has died will still be able to inherit a lifetime tenancy. There is still only a right to one succession.

We may have to offer other family members who meet the qualifying criteria a fixed term tenancy. 

Pay to Stay

It has been announced by the Government on 21st November 2016 that the introduction of ‘Pay to Stay’ will no longer be implemented.​

The sale of higher value council homes

The Act enables the government to set a definition of “higher value homes” and will create a duty on local authorities to consider selling homes when they become vacant. The government states that each high value home sold will be replaced by another “affordable home”. This has currently been delayed and will not be implemented during this financial year. Details are to be published at a later date.

Extension of the Right to buy

The Act extends the Right to buy to Housing Association tenants. This is to be funded through payments made by local authorities in respect of the proceeds of selling high value council homes when they fall vacant.

The promotion of ‘Starter Homes’ 

The introduction of a new affordable housing product aimed at promoting homeownership among younger people.

A Starter Home is defined in the Act as a new dwelling to be made available for sale to first time buyers, between the ages of 24 and 40 and sold at a 20% discount of the market value.

The Act imposes a general duty on local authorities to promote Starter Homes through their planning functions, with a percentage of all new homes to be starter homes. There are some amendments to the national planning policy later this year which will provide more details on how this is going to be achieved.

Last Updated: 20 November 2019