Council could sideline housing associations not offering lifetime tenancies

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, executive member for housing and development. Photograph: Islington Council

The Town Hall’s lead councillor for housing is considering committing the council to only working with housing associations that exclusively offer lifetime tenancies.

The Localism Act gave organisations the ability to offer fixed-term tenancies in 2012, though the disparity between housing association and London rents make it difficult to move in short spaces of time within the city from a less secure tenancy.

At a 10 June housing scrutiny committee meeting, leading councillors expressed the view that the Town Hall could use its leverage to persuade housing association bosses to offer more lifetime tenancies.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward (Lab, Holloway), executive member for housing and development, said: “Something has genuinely happened in the housing association sector. They pay a lot more attention to us than they used to. In the last month, I have met with the chief executives of L&Q and Hide. In previous years, I was often fobbed off by junior members of staff.

“I think the penny has dropped, as we even have Theresa May talking about council homes, rather than housing association homes. It’s probably the one thing there’s consensus on in Westminster is that we should be building council homes.

“So maybe we should be saying to every chief executive when we meet them, ‘Let’s stick to lifetime tenancies if you want to be part of our genuinely affordable homes programme.'”

The council is committed to building 1,900 genuinely affordable homes between 2018 and 2022, including 550 new council homes that could potentially be built on estates on where there is “under-developed, unloved or unusual space”.