Important Information Affecting properties Allocated through HomeOption
The Government are making some changes to social housing, which it says will make the allocation of housing fairer to all applicants. The changes also aim to ensure that the support which social housing provides is focused on those who need it most for as long as they need it.
What are the Changes?
The main differences that will affect you include Rent Levels (Affordable Rent and Social Rent ) and Length Of Tenancy (Lifetime Tenancies and Fixed Term Tenancies)
The Government has asked housing associations to let an agreed percentage of their existing homes (when they become empty) and their new homes at an Affordable Rent level. This means, compared to a similar property, the rent charged will be less than the amount charged by a private landlord but will be more than a traditional housing association rent (currently known as a Social Rent). Generally this will be up to 80% of a similar private rented property in the area. Very soon, each property advertised in HomeOption will say which type of rent level will apply.
The housing associations have signed an agreement to say that the additional rent collected from affordable rents will be used to build new affordable housing.
Affordable rented properties will be advertised and allocated in the same way that social rented properties currently are. That means that they will be advertised through HomeOption and allocated to applicants on the Council's Housing Register.
Tenants of Affordable Rent properties can still apply for Housing Benefit as normal and claims will be assessed based on household circumstances. If Housing Benefit does not cover the full rent, tenants will have to pay the difference.
This has always been the traditional rent level for both Council and Housing Association homes. The only difference you will see is that the rent for these homes will now be called Social Rents.
Length Of Tenancy
As well as the rent levels changing, the Government is also proposing to give councils and housing associations the freedom to grant two different types of tenancies:
The tenant can live in their home for as long as they want. These are the tenancies that councils and housing associations have mostly given in the past.
Fixed term tenancies
A fixed term tenancy is NOT a lifetime tenancy; it is a shorter tenancy with an end date. A tenancy period may last 5, 10, 15 years or longer but cannot be less than 2 years. The individual landlord decides the length of a fixed term tenancy.
Under certain circumstances, once the successful applicant has been selected and their individual needs taken into consideration, the actual length of the tenancy may be different from that which was originally advertised. Each housing association that has homes in East Herts will publish their policies on the length of tenancy they will offer to different households. For instance if you are successful on a home in sheltered accommodation you maybe offered a different tenancy length to a young family.
What happens at the end of the Fixed Term Tenancy?
As the end of a fixed term tenancy approaches, the tenant's housing situation will be reviewed by the landlord, whose responsibility it is to decide whether or not the tenancy should be extended. The landlord will have agreed published guidelines of the situations in which it will or will not renew a tenancy. If the landlord decides not to renew your tenancy they must give you at least 6 months notice. Before the end of the tenancy, if the tenant needs to or wants to move on, they will be guided and advised about the full range of housing options available to them.
What happens if I am an Existing Tenant and wish to move?
At the moment you may have a lifetime tenancy (please check with your own landlord if you are unsure). In the HomeOption scheme you will have the choice of bidding for either an affordable or social rented property.
If you make a successful bid on an affordable rented property you may be offered a fixed term tenancy even though you may already have an existing lifetime tenancy. If you make a successful bid on a social rented property you will be allowed to keep your existing lifetime tenancy.
Where can I find out more information about these changes?
If you have a specific question about a property advertised through HomeOption please contact the landlord of that property. If you have a specific question about your current tenancy please contact your landlord. Further information about Social Housing Reforms are available from the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) website at Communities and Local Government - Social Housing.
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