Today, the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities has unveiled a consultation regarding upcoming social housing reforms. These reforms have generated controversy ever since details of the plans started to emerge in the past few weeks. The consultation seeks views on the following issues:
1. The introduction of a United Kingdom (UK) connection test, to ensure that it is those with the closest connection to the UK who are eligible for a social home;
2. The introduction of mandatory tests for: local connection test, income test, false statement test, and tests for anti-social behaviour and terrorism offences;
3. The introduction of a new ground for eviction for those who are convicted of terrorism offences, and implementation of a “three strikes and you’re out” policy for anti-social behaviour.
The proposed introduction of a UK connection test has raised concerns within the housing sector over a potential “British homes for British Worker’s” policy. In response to this, several organizations such as the Chartered Institute of Housing, the NHF, the Local Government Association, PlaceShapers, and Shelter have jointly written an open letter to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for housing. The purpose of the letter is to voice their concerns regarding the suggested measures.
The letter objects to the test and states: “We all deserve safe housing, regardless of where we are from. Further rationing of an already scarce resource does not address the fundamental failures of the last 40 years – we have simply not built the homes the UK needs to ensure everybody has a safe and secure place to live.” The letter also noted that “imposing extended qualification periods… is likely to force more people into homelessness” and highlighted that 90% of new social housing lettings already go to UK nationals.
The UK connection test has somewhat taken attention away from the other proposals, such as the "three strikes and you're out" policy. The consultation indicates: “…the government has therefore committed in the Anti-social Behaviour Action Plan to speeding up the process of removing anti-social behaviour perpetrators from their communities by exploring a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ eviction expectation for all social landlords, meaning three proven instances of anti-social behaviour followed by three warnings from your landlord. After three proven instances of anti-social behaviour (and three warnings from the landlord), the government thinks it is right that perpetrators face eviction. We want to work with the sector to achieve this.”
What will this mean for social housing in the future?
As always, the devil will be in the detail, but a clear understanding and definition of ‘strike’ will be essential. The initial indication from the consultation is that the new ground will be an additional discretionary ground. Considering the current compulsory and optional reasons provided by the 1985 and 1988 Housing Act, it is uncertain if the new suggestion will have a substantial impact on the methods employed by Registered Providers. These organisations already put in great effort, collaborating with various partners, to prevent and address anti-social behaviour in accordance with the Regulator's consumer standards.
We encourage registered providers to respond to the consultation, which closes on 26 March 2024. Please use the link below to access the survey:
How can Tozers help?
Tozers remains committed to supporting registered providers and local authorities in addressing the difficulties associated with combating anti-social behaviour. With more than three decades of experience, our housing management team are well equipped to assist and advise you.
Contact us on the button below to speak with one of our experienced social housing solicitors.