UK Politics

Tenants' finances to be checked after two years

Housing estate
Image caption The government hopes the proposed new policies will be in place by summer 2011

Social housing landlords will be able to check their tenants' finances after two years in the property, under planned reforms.

Following the review, tenants could be evicted if their financial situation is deemed to have improved enough.

The reforms, for new tenants in England, will be unveiled next week as part of a wide-ranging Localism Bill.

The government had already said it wanted to end council houses "for life" for anyone new coming into the system.

Existing tenants will not be affected by the changes.

Local authorities and housing associations would give tenants at least six months notice to move out if they were found to be no longer eligible for social housing.

The Department for Communities and Local Government stressed that two years was a minimum and that the reforms were intended to give flexibility to local housing providers.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC that "two years won't be the norm for tenancies, many years will be the norm".

The measure will be subject to consultation, but the government hopes it will be in place by summer 2011.

Housing devolved

A number of other reforms to social housing, including fixed-term tenancies - again, with a minimum of two years - will be announced on Monday.

BBC political reporter Adam Fleming said the policy "might go down badly with some Liberal Democrats".

"The Lib Dem Deputy Leader Simon Hughes said his party would need 'a lot of persuading' when David Cameron first mooted the idea of ending life-long tenancies in the summer," added our correspondent.

At present, council tenants keep their property for life unless they breach their tenancy agreement, for example, by engaging in anti-social behaviour. They can also pass their homes on to their children.

Housing is a devolved matter for the administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so any changes would only apply in England.

In last month's spending review, the coalition said funding for social housing would be cut by more than 60%, with new tenants also having to pay higher rents, at nearer market rates.

But the government said it hoped the changes would free up funds to build 150,000 new affordable homes over the next four years.

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