A proposed shake-up of social housing would tighten allocation rules and allow landlords to get tougher on anti-social tenants.
The government wants to prioritise those who have a 'strong connection' to the UK, their local area and those who don’t disrupt communities through anti-social behaviour or terrorism offences.
With more than one million households on the social housing waiting list in England, it should make the system fairer for new applicants, although existing tenants will not be affected, it is claimed.
Qualification tests currently vary between each local authority area and can sometimes result in confusion for social housing applicants. Under the proposed system, they would be asked to demonstrate a connection to the UK for at least 10 years and their local area for at least two years. Prospective tenants on higher incomes would also no longer qualify for social housing.
A new ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy would be introduced, meaning that problem tenants would be evicted after three proven instances of anti-social behaviour followed by three warnings from their landlord.
Those who have unspent convictions for certain criminal anti-social behaviour or have been subject to certain civil sanctions could also be disqualified for up to five years.
The government says it expects landlords to work with victims and perpetrators to help address anti-social behaviour and prevent it reoccurring.
Housing Minister Lee Rowley adds: “If you abuse the system, making peoples’ lives a misery or actively work against our British values, you are making a choice – such choices will have consequences and our proposals seek to stop such people getting a social home. The message is clear: play by the rules, pay in and we will support you. If you choose not to, this country is not going to be a soft touch.”
The proposals have not gone down well with the councils who will be implementing these proposals. Cllr Darren Rodwell (pictured), Housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association says: “The vast majority of social housing lettings go to UK nationals and many councils already have policies relating to anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour, rent arrears and income thresholds in their allocation policies.
"The LGA has raised concerns that restricting eligibility criteria for social housing and extending qualification periods could result in a rise in homelessness."
In March last year Rishi Sunak revealed plans to enable landlords to evict problem tenants within two weeks, although details of this have yet to emerge.
The consultation runs until 26th March.