The debate on the Housing and Regeneration Bill on 31 March saw clauses on both Ground 8 Possession and tolerated trespassers put forward by the Government.
Clause 9 appears to stop RSLs using ground 8 at all and to introduce a reasonableness defence in general for ground 8 where housing benefit delay or failures have meant that some rent is in arrears, providing that the delay or failure is ‘not referable to any wilful act or omission of the tenant’. I can see a lot of cases on ‘wilful’, right off.
In moving the new clause on tolerated trespassers, The Junior Housing Minister Iain Wright said:
The new clauses and amendments deal with the tolerated trespasser doctrine. They will resolve the problem for existing tolerated trespassers, and will ensure that no tolerated trespassers are created in future. The changes will apply to secure, assured, introductory and demoted tenancies.
The full ‘replacement tenancy’ clauses are on this page of Hansard.
Both clauses were passed on this reading. All good stuff so far.
Iain Wright also announced a working group on current RSL use of Ground 8, in the context of it being against Housing Corporation guidance:
I have therefore asked my officials to convene a working group meeting with the key stakeholders, including Shelter, Citizens Advice, the National Housing Federation, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Housing Corporation to examine those concerns and report back to me by summer, recommending options for a way forward. In light of the regulatory framework that we are putting in place, I am particularly interested in the role that Oftenant could play in addressing the problem for the registered social landlord sector. The reformed system of regulation, which will give a stronger voice to tenants to bring issues of concern to the regulator and a more targeted system of regulatory action, seems a good approach to dealing with the matter.
London & Quadrant, we are looking at you now…
Elsewhere, the Housing Minister, has announced that the ‘debate’ is over (concerning her idiotic ideas on re-introducing workhouses/setting employment-seeking conditions on council tenancies) and it is time to implement them. It wasn’t much of a debate, really. She came up with the idea and everyone else, apart from David Blunkett, said it was stupid.
Flint appears to have adopted the face-saving means of back-tracking, by appointing a working group to come up with implementation ideas. The chair of the working group, Jane Slowley has made abundantly clear that sanctions and punishments attached to tenancy do not form part of her thinking. So, there will be some kind of proposals for employment support and training linked to social tenancies, but no lunatic sanctions. Flint will say she has moved matters on, the rest of us will breathe a sigh of relief.
And in the bears and woodland based sanitary facilities category, Councils are found to ignore their housing duties once they have flogged off their housing stock to Housing Associations.