Government accused of lifetime tenancy U-turn

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Mar 10 20:33:59 GMT 2011

Government accused of lifetime tenancy U-turn
9 March 2011 | By Tom Lloyd

The shadow housing minister has accused the government of a breaking 
a promise to protect the rights of existing tenants.
Alison Seabeck said ministers have gone back on a commitment not to 
scrap lifetime tenancies for tenants who are already in social housing.
Under proposals in the Localism Bill, which is currently going 
through parliament, social landlords would be able to set fixed-term 
tenancies for new tenants.
Housing minister Grant Shapps has insisted these reforms will not 
affect existing tenants under any circumstances.
When questioned on the subject in parliament last week, he said: 
'There is no chance of, or way in which, a social tenancy can be 
broken or changed for anybody already in council or housing association homes.'
But during discussions on the Localism Bill yesterday, communities 
minister Andrew Stunell suggested discretion on retaining security of 
tenure when existing tenants move home 'should be available to landlords'.
Ms Seabeck said: 'From the prime minister down, the government has 
promised repeatedly that changes to social housing will not see 
existing social tenants lose their rights to a secure tenancy.
'That promise has been broken and tenants should be very concerned 
about the way Tory and Liberal Democrat ministers are threatening 
their right to secure home.'
The Communities and Local Government department said Mr Stunell has 
been setting out government policy.
A spokesperson said: 'Existing secure and assured tenants will see no 
change to the terms of their tenancies and will also retain their 
lifetime tenancy if they transfer or exchange their properties, even 
if they exchange with a tenant in a new flexible tenancy. And those 
required to move home, for example to allow demolition and 
regeneration work to take place, they will always be granted a 
tenancy with no less security in their new settled home.
'Andrew Stunell made clear that if existing secure or assured tenants 
choose to move to a new affordable rent property, the landlord will 
not be required to offer lifetime security but would have the 
discretion to do so.'

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