Housing and Planning Bill

Written evidence submitted by Fowzia Hoosain (HPB 142)


Introduction and Summary

1. I am a teacher working in East London, and would like to contribute written evidence with regards to the proposed extension of Right to Buy to Housing Associations for your consideration.

2. I believe that the government's proposal to extend its Right to Buy scheme to Housing Association tenants has the potential to transform the lives of at least a million housing association tenants by allowing them to become home owners for the first time.

3. However, I am concerned that there are some key constituents who will be excluded from this proposed extension to Right to Buy - namely  Key Workers on Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancies.

4.  I am concerned because under present circumstances these key workers are excluded from the  Right to Acquire  scheme, which is an existent scheme available for tenants of Housing Associations. I myself fall into this category; I hope that, with the extension of Right to Buy, this key constituency will also not be excluded and will be given due consideration.

Details

5. Under current circumstances, in general, if one is a Housing Association tenant then there is a three year residential qualification for the Right to Acquire scheme.

6. However, if a tenant is housed under a  Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy  then they will  not  be eligible to acquire their home, whether they have lived in it for three years or for twenty years (see Page 2 of 'Exclusion of certain assured shorthold tenancies from the Right to Acquire'  in   Statutory Instrument 2012 No. 696 Housing England,  available online here:  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/696/pdfs/uksi_20120696_en.pdf ).

7. Many Key workers are currently housed with this contract, and therefore are not able to acquire their home.

8. Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy  is a tenancy which is 'rolling', or renews itself weekly/monthly, depending on when the rent is paid. These tenancies can be categorised into two: a  Statutory  Assured Shorthold Tenancy and a  Contractual  Assured Shorthold Tenancy, though the Statutory Instrument (see link above) does not make a distinction between the two.

9. If a tenant was  originally  on a fixed term tenancy which came to a close, his or her contract will automatically (by statute) turn into a Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy. When this occurs, the contract is known as a  Statutory  Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy. 

10. However, if a tenant has been placed on a Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy from the beginning of their tenancy (i.e. not by statute), then this is known as a  Contractual  Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Crucially, some key constituents (such as Key workers) have been placed on a  Contractual  Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy from the  very beginning  of their tenancy, and have not been offered any other form of fixed tenancy. 

11. Thus, it may be the case that a Key Worker has lived in their home on a Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy for ten years, and will neither be offered a fixed term contract, nor the Right to Acquire. Even though they have more than met the three year residential requirement, this type of contract has ruled them out of acquiring their home.

12. I have spoken to a number of Housing Associations who work with Key Workers, who have said that they  only   offer Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancies (therefore, only  Contractual  Period Assured Shorthold Tenancies). Accordingly, these Key workers who have entered into a Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy with their social landlord will  never  be able to acquire their home, whether their residential period has been three years or twenty years.

13. I do not have the data for the total number of people affected, but I have spoken to several Housing Associations. For example, Local Space (previously Passmore Urban Renewals Ltd.) in Newham  only  offer Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancies to Key Workers. Thus, these Key Workers will  never have the right to acquire,  irrespective of their willingness and residential period.

14. I would have thought that embedding Key Workers into the local community is a priority for the government, especially in London, as it creates stability for local schools and hospitals.

15. My request is: Is it possible to ensure that Key Workers, particularly Key Workers on Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancies, are not overlooked in the current government proposals of extending Right to Buy to Housing Associations? 

16. There are many who have lived in their homes for five, ten or more years and are willing to buy their homes, but cannot do so due to this technicality.

17. Equally, if this issue is not looked at by the government, it could mean that Housing Associations can avoid offering tenants the Right to Buy in any future arrangement simply by placing tenants on a Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy from the very beginning of their tenancy period, with no option of a more fixed term contract. This would seem to offer a loophole that undermines the very aims of the Right to Buy extension.

18. Allowing social tenants, particularly Key Workers, to own their homes will not only increase home ownership and create more stable communities, but the funds raised can be used to build new homes and lift the most vulnerable households in Britain off waiting lists and into a place that they can call home.

19. I hope you will be able to look into this matter during this crucial period, and eagerly await your response.

December 2015

Prepared 14th December 2015