As we continue to emerge from lockdown measures and deal with local measures and the short and long term economic impact of Covid-19, local authorities will need to re-assess how services will be delivered for years to come.
In announcing the Government’s new housing association Right to Buy (RTB) policy on the Today programme this morning, Greg Clark left an obvious gap in the Government’s proposals that was left unchallenged in the interview. This needs to be fully tested to see whether there is yet another reason for why extending the RTB to housing associations could be such a disastrous policy.
The justification Greg Clark gave for extending the RTB to housing association tenants was to enable them to meet their aspirations to own their homes. He considered that housing associations should not object to these proposals because of the Government promise that the homes sold would be replaced on a one-for-one basis – and this is an important part of the proposed policy. Who is to provide this compensation? The answer he gave is that local authorities are to repay housing associations for the loss by them selling their own, higher valued properties.
Putting aside the results of the research that only 1 in 19 RTB properties have previously been replaced under the current RTB arrangements and only 39% of housing association tenants themselves think they should get a discount, the simple maths does not work. In order for a housing association to be compensated for the sale of one of its properties, local authorities must themselves sell one of their higher valued properties. This means the RTB property is now in private ownership and a local authority property has to be sold in order to build a replacement one for the housing association - one minus two still equals minus one.
There could also be a perverse incentive on local authorities to review their direct ownership of social housing if, for example, Westminster Council is required to sell one of its properties to compensate Peabody for the sale of one of its own properties under the housing association RTB. How this compensation will practically work across the country when so many local authorities have transferred all their housing stock and the national HRA has been disbanded is another headache. This may even result in some local authorities dusting off their old stock options appraisals and pursuing a whole stock transfer simply to halt the enforced sale of their housing stock.
These arguments need to be properly and comprehensively aired beyond political and philosophical positioning in order to balance the equation.
The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
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