England: Large housing association to offer lifetime tenancies
London’s largest housing association L&Q is set to end the use of Fixed Term Tenancies (FTTs) and instead offer open-ended assured tenancies as its preferred tenure type in a move set to provide greater security to its residents.
The association will also move 8,500 existing fixed term tenants onto assured tenancies and has announced that it is working closely with residents to develop an offer to support aspiring homeowners and customers who need to move due to a change in their circumstances.
The decision follows extensive research and consultation with residents and a detailed analysis of data covering the full life-cycle of FTTs. It also responds to the UK government’s offer of greater flexibility outlined in the recent Green Paper.
Research highlighted the fact that many residents suffer anxiety about the renewal process; it also found that FTTs were not achieving their desired policy outcomes, largely because they introduce an arbitrary renewal date that does not reflect individual circumstances.
Research highlights include:
- During the six-year period covered by the analysis, in very few cases did the renewal date of the tenancy coincide with a change in resident circumstances.
- Other than for serious rent arrears, L&Q has effectively renewed the overwhelming majority of its 8,500 FTTs without ending a single FTT due to the under-occupation of a home
- FTTs act as a barrier to mobility as people don’t want to lose security of tenure
- The research confirmed that the biggest barrier to meeting housing need, including downsizing, is the lack of available suitable homes.
Because of these findings, L&Q is now working closely with residents to develop a package of support measures and incentives that will be more effective in encouraging resident mobility when housing needs change and which we plan to make available.
The decision to end fixed term tenancies comes shortly after L&Q announced a new home standard that gives residents the best possible start to their tenancy. These new measures, together with an existing affordable rent policy linked to local incomes and a £250 million long-term investment in communities to build skills and opportunities demonstrates L&Q’s commitment to tackle social stigma and ensure that everyone has a safe, secure and quality home they can afford.
David Montague, chief executive, said: “We found FTTs to be a crude tool that have not fixed the problems they were created to address. What’s more, the renewal process causes unnecessary worry for residents.
“We share the government’s determination to tackle social stigma. Ending fixed term tenancies, introducing a new home standard, linking rents to local incomes and a £250 million long-term investment in communities to build skills and opportunities are all designed to ensure that everyone has a safe, secure, quality home they can afford.”
Fayann Simpson, Board member and chair of Resident Services Group, said: “I’m delighted that L&Q has made these changes following extensive consultation with residents. It will help thousands of residents to feel more secure about their home and their future.”
Andy Brown, chief operating officer, added: “Doing the right thing for customers drives everything we do. Ending FTTs is a great example of how we’re listening to our residents and involving them in key decisions that shape our services.
“We believe that no one should be denied opportunity because of where they live. Increasing the security of social housing while using incentives to encourage resident mobility is a more effective way to meet housing needs and help individuals to realise their potential.”