5. Tenancy types and conditions - flexible tenancy
Introduced through the Localism Act, a flexible tenancy is one that is offered for a specific period of time, as opposed to the traditional ‘lifetime tenancies’. The period of time is known as the ‘fixed term’.
From 1 April 2013 the Housing Review Board agreed that certain groups of tenants will be given a flexible tenancy, rather than secure tenancy, after the introductory tenancy has ended.
In most circumstances tenants going into sheltered accommodation will be granted secure tenancies as it is felt that their circumstances are less likely to change over time. Sheltered accommodation is accommodation which we deem to be suitable for persons over 60 years of age or with a disability. (Exceptions may include situations where one tenant requires sheltered housing but where the spouse or civil partner is under 55 and has no such requirement.)
In most circumstances tenants going into general needs properties will be given flexible tenancies as it is felt possible that their circumstances (family make up, financial standing or need for adapted accommodation) may change during the course of the flexible tenancy, and so change their housing needs.
However, there may be some circumstances where it is judged that, due to their individual circumstances, a tenant going into a general needs property should be granted a secure tenancy. These circumstances may include learning disability, chronic physical disability, severe sight impairment, and those with a severe and enduring mental health problem. The housing needs and strategy manager will decide if particular tenants should be given a secure tenancy.
The length of the flexible tenancy will be for five years in almost all cases.
But the tenancy can be re-issued for another fixed term at the end of this period. The first five year period will start at the end of the introductory tenancy. In exceptional circumstances we will consider offering a flexible tenancy on less than five, but more than two, years. The decision to do so will be made on a case by case basis by the housing needs and strategy manager. The length and terms of the flexible tenancy will be explained to all tenants concerned before they take on the introductory tenancy.
We will begin the review period of all flexible tenancies at least 12 months prior to the end of the fixed term. We will write to tenants to tell them the outcome of the review. Where the tenant(s) circumstances have not changed significantly over the course of the fixed term we will renew the flexible tenancy for a further fixed term.
We will renew the flexible term tenancy unless:
- The property has become larger than the tenant and their current family require
- The property has become overcrowded
- The income of the household has risen to above the income limit as set out in the Devon Home Choice Policy
- The property has adaptations which are no longer required by the current tenant or a member of their family
- The rent account is in arrears at the time of the review or has been in arrears for at least six out of the last 12 months - exceptions can be made for tenants getting assistance with their rent from housing benefits, those who we consider to have only minor rent arrears, or those who have made an agreement to pay by instalments and have kept to this agreement
- There has been a breach of tenancy conditions and a notice seeking possession has been served
- We intend to demolish, redevelop or dispose of the property within the next five years
In these situations we will consider offering a short term tenancy of the property or suitable alternative accommodation.
When considering whether to renew a flexible tenancy we will take into account:
- Circumstances where there is a clear need for the household to remain in the same location and other suitable accommodation is not available locally. This will usually only apply in our rural areas
- Circumstances where the property has had to be adapted to meet the needs of a particular tenant or member of their household and this work would have to be duplicated in a new property
In cases where the flexible tenancy is not being renewed, we will give at least six months notice that the fixed term is coming to an end, and a formal notice seeking possession will be served at least two months prior to the end date. We will make it clear that we do not propose to grant another tenancy and the reason for that decision. To end the flexible tenancy we must apply to the court for a possession order.
Tenants on a flexible tenancy have the Right to Buy their property (after a qualifying period). However, they do not have the right to make improvements to the property or to be compensated for any improvements.
Flexible tenancies are subject to the same grounds for possession and succession as secure tenancies.
Tenants have the right to request a review of the decision to offer a flexible tenancy within 21 days of our decision but only as to the length of the fixed term being offered and only if they believe the offer does not accord with our published Tenancy Policy. This request should be made in writing to the housing needs and strategy manager.
Tenants have the right to request a review of the decision not to renew a flexible tenancy within 21 days of the notice only if they believe this does not accord with our published Tenancy Policy. This request should be made in writing to the housing needs and strategy manager. The tenant can request an oral hearing and the review will be conducted by someone senior to the maker of the original decision and not involved in that decision. The review must be carried out prior to possession proceedings being issued.