Friday, 24 September 2010

Social Housing Standards #3 - Tenancy Standard

The third of the six new standards for social housing relates to tenancies.

The new standards were introduced in April 2010 by the Tenants Services Authority (TSA)which regulates social housing in England.

There are three areas covered by the Tenancy Standard. Against each, the TSA have described the outcomes landlords should deliver and our specific expectations of them.

The three areas are:
  1. allocations - how tenancies are allocated
  2. rents - how rents are calculated and explained to tenant
  3. tenure - how tenure is made secure and managed - including how registered providers will make sure that the home continues to be occupied by the tenant they let the home to.

Tenancy standard

Required outcomes

Specific expectations


Registered providers shall let their homes in a fair, transparent and efficient way. They shall take into account the housing needs and aspirations of tenants and potential tenants.

They shall demonstrate how they:
  • make the best use of available housing
  • are compatible with the purpose of the housing
  • contribute to local authorities’ strategic housing function and  sustainable communities
There should be clear application, decision-making and appeals processes.

Registered providers shall co-operate with local authorities’ strategic housing function, and their duties to meet identified local housing needs. This includes assistance with local authorities’ homelessness duties, and through meeting obligations in nominations agreements. Where, in exceptional circumstances, registered providers choose not to participate in choice-based lettings schemes in areas where they own homes, they shall publish their reasons for doing so.

Registered providers shall develop and deliver services to address under occupation and overcrowding in their homes, within the resources available to them. These services should meet the needs of their tenants, and will offer choices to them.

Registered providers shall provide tenants wishing to move with access to clear and relevant advice about their housing options. They shall participate in mobility schemes and mutual exchange schemes where these are available.

Registered providers’ published policies shall include how they have made use of common housing registers, common allocations policies and local letting policies.  Registered providers shall clearly set out, and be able to give reasons for, the criteria they use for excluding actual and potential tenants from consideration for allocations, mobility or mutual exchange schemes.

Registered providers shall develop and deliver allocations processes in a way which supports their effective use by the full range of actual and potential tenants, including those with support needs, those who do not speak English as a first language and others who have difficulties with written English.

Registered providers shall minimise the time that properties are empty between each letting. When doing this, they shall take into account the circumstances of the tenants who have been offered the properties.

Registered providers shall record all lettings and sales in the Continuous Recording of Lettings system.

Required outcomes

Specific expectations

Registered providers shall charge rents in accordance with the objectives and framework set out in the Government’s Direction to the TSA of November 2009.
Registered providers shall ensure they meet the following requirements, which derive from the Government’s Direction to the TSA of November 2009 and published within Directions to the TSA – Summary of Responses and Government Response, November 2009, CLG.

Subject to paragraph 2.3, registered providers shall set rents with a view to achieving the following as far as possible:
  • rents conform with the pattern produced by the rent formula set out in rent influencing regime guidance (‘target rents’) with a five per cent tolerance in individual rents (ten per cent for supported and sheltered housing) (‘rent flexibility level’) but subject to the maximum rent levels specified in that guidance (‘rent caps’)
  • weekly rent for accommodation increases each year by an amount which is no more than RPI + 0.5% + £2 until it reaches the upper limit of the rent flexibility level or the rent cap, whichever is lower
  • weekly rent for accommodation that has reached or is above the upper limit of the rent flexibility increases each year by an amount that is no more than the increase to the target rents
  • rent caps increase annually by RPI + one per cent
  • target rents increase annually by RPI + 0.5%
Where the application of the Rent Standard would cause registered providers to be unable to meet other standards, particularly in respect of financial viability including the risk that a reduction in overall rental income causes them to risk failing to meet existing commitments such as banking or other lending covenants, the TSA may allow extensions to the period over which the requirements of the Rent Standard are met.

Registered providers shall provide clear information to tenants that explains how their rent and any service charge is set, and how it is changed, including reference to the RPI benchmark to which annual changes to rents should be linked (except where rents are controlled under different legislation).

Required outcomes

Specific expectations

Registered providers shall offer and issue the most secure form of tenure compatible with the purpose of the housing and the sustainability of the community. They shall meet all applicable statutory and legal requirements in relation to the form and use of tenancy agreements.

Registered providers shall set out in an annual report for tenants how they are meeting these obligations and how they intend to meet them in the future. The provider shall then meet the commitments it has made to its tenants.
Registered providers shall publish clear and accessible policies which outline their approach to tenancy management.

They shall develop and provide services that will support tenants to maintain their tenancy and prevent unnecessary evictions.

The approach should set out how registered providers will make sure that the home continues to be occupied by the tenant they let the home to 

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