Tenancy Strategy 2022 - 2027
2. Strategic aims
3. Population demographics within Gateshead
4. Social housing in Gateshead
5. Rent levels and affordability
6. Discharge of homelessness duty
7. Granting of tenancies
8. Tenancy sustainment
10. Tenant mobility
11. Purchasing a socially rented home
12. Measuring the impact of the tenancy strategy
14. Implementation of the strategy
1.1 The Localism Act 2011 places an obligation on each local authority to have a tenancy strategy which is drafted in consultation with the housing providers. It sets our expectations of registered providers in the borough and provides guidance on our preferred approach to tenure and affordability with specific consideration on:
- the types of tenancies they will grant
- the circumstances under which different types of tenancies will be granted
- when they grant fixed-term tenancies, the length of the fixed term and whether they grant a further tenancy when the fixed term expires
1.2 Gateshead Council has a strategic vision to 'make Gateshead a place where everyone thrives', the principles of which are:
- put people and families at the heart of everything we do
- tackle inequality so people have a fair chance
- support our communities to support themselves and each other
- invest in our economy to provide opportunities for employment, innovation and growth
- work together and fight for a better future for Gateshead
1.3 We value the rights of households, some of whom are in the direst need, to be housed in the most suitable accommodation, and to receive the right kind of support in a tenancy which is aimed at providing them with a home which will promote their health and wellbeing. We value the need to listen to our tenants when identifying the support required and the delivery of housing services and we also value the need to identify and delivery long-term housing solutions.
1.4 We have recently introduced a new homelessness and rough sleepers strategy and homelessness charter following a review in 2021. The main conclusions were:
- the need to develop youth homelessness joint working protocols with colleagues in social care for 16-to-17 year olds and care leavers
- early intervention and greater homelessness prevention focus for victims of domestic abuse - meaning home security and outreach support
- to undertake further needs analysis (Domestic Abuse, Young People and those with Multiple and Complex Needs) and review/remodel supported accommodation and floating support to better match need/demand. This includes 24/7 access to accommodation to prevent rough sleeping/use of bed and breakfast accommodation
- to develop a new homelessness pathway where referrals are made/coordinated via a central 'Gateway' with 'trusted assessments,' a performance monitoring framework and a better understanding of needs/demand
- to work with registered providers and private landlords to increase housing options for those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness
- to implement a changing futures programme for those with multiple and complex needs, to inform learning and system change in Gateshead as well as regionally and nationally
1.5 In 2021 we also undertook a comprehensive review of allocations and tenancy management within Council stock. The review identified the need to introduce a new Gateshead Housing Model which will encompass:
- a whole system response - that includes support commissioners, registered providers and private landlords
- policies and processes focused on delivering solely to meet the needs of Gateshead
- consolidated 'pool' of specialist and general housing
- a digital marketplace, which enables self-service
- a coordinated approach to assessing housing and support needs, commissioning and allocating solution, with oversight of the customer journey
- improved formalised partnership working with accommodation registered providers through a new Tenancy Strategy
- a single allocations scheme/policy with registered providers working with us collaboratively
1.6 The Social Housing Green Paper, published in 2018, proposed a new deal for social housing. In November 2020, the Government published its White Paper, The Charter for Social Housing Residents, which affirms social rented homes as places where residents can put down roots and build communities. It also recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of people's homes, communities and neighbourhoods.
1.7 Gateshead wants those allocated social housing to see their homes as genuine places to settle, not as temporary welfare provision. Residents should have control over their lives and homes as this can help to build thriving, cohesive communities. Offering lifetime tenancies at social rent levels best supports this in most cases.
In introducing this Tenancy Strategy we intend to deliver a number of aims:
Aim 1: To set out our expectations for our partner registered providers when formulating their own housing policies.
Aim 2: To provide a clear development mandate across the borough and specifically with areas subjected to local plans.
Aim 3: To assist affordable housing developers to understand what the council requires of social housing landlords who own, let and manage stock
Aim 4: To ensure that the supply of affordable housing is genuinely affordable and built to a good standard to meet the needs of local residents, specifically of those on low income. The development of this supply will be linked to the aims set out in the housing strategy in response to climate and net zero.
Aim 5: To support communities to thrive through the creation of sustainable social housing offers.
Aim 6: To meet housing need, whilst recognising that need changes and evolves and the service needs to be able to flex with that evolution.
3.1 The borough of Gateshead is in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, north-east England. It includes Gateshead, Rowlands Gill, Whickham, Blaydon, Ryton, Felling, Pelaw, Dunston and Low Fell. The borough forms part of the Tyneside conurbation, centred on Newcastle upon Tyne. It is bordered by the local authorities areas of Newcastle upon Tyne to the north, Northumberland to the west, County Durham to the south, the City of Sunderland to the south-east, and South Tyneside to the east.
3.2 In 2021, Gateshead recorded a population of 202,823 people. The table below shows the population of Gateshead and the north-east of England together with predictions until 2027.
*Office of National Statistics 2021
The prediction for population growth in Gateshead is diminishing, in contrast to the north-east a whole, which expects a rise of between 3,000 to 5,000.
3.3 When we look at the age of the population in Gateshead, we can those falling between 20 and 49 years old are slightly higher in proportion to the region, whereas 50 to 64-year-olds are same across the region and those in 0 to 19 and above 65 are slightly lower than for the region.
*Office of National Statistics 2021
3.4 The 2011 census shows that 95% of the population was white British and less than 10% of the population is made up of people from other ethnic groups. The north-east of England shows a similar position. The 2021 census data is imminent, and we will capture these figures once this has been published.
3.5 Properties in Gateshead had an overall average price of £149,949 over the last year. The majority of sales were semi-detached properties, selling for an average price of £164,130. Terraced properties sold for an average of £147,439, with flats fetching £101,290. Overall, prices were 2% down on the previous year and 1% up on the 2018 peak of £148,008.
3.6 Average earnings in the borough were £468 per week, with the north-east as a region being £528, which shows that many in Gateshead earn 11% lower than others in the region. Purchasing a property on these weekly averages will prove problematic for many residents in the borough.
4.1 We can demonstrate through a series of ward maps the properties density for council stock, registered providers, private sector rented and owner occupier.
4.2 Council properties by ward are shown in the map below and we can see that they are fairly evenly distributed across the borough with the exception of the west. The darkest blue wards show the highest property density for council stock.
4.3 The map of registered properties by ward, shown below, demonstrates that these properties only significantly appear in the north-east and then primarily in two wards. There are no wards where registered providers' properties exceed 20% density.
4.4 Seen below, the map of private rented properties by ward shows that there is a high presence of this type of accommodation, with much of the borough showing density levels of 30% and some wards as high as 50%. There are no wards below 10%.
4.5 The final map (below) shows the owner occupiers by ward. We can see that that the east and south of the borough, where social rented properties are fewest in number, are heavily populated with significantly high numbers of owner-occupied properties; the density levels often exceeding 60%.
4.6 We will work with our landlords and community-led housing developers to maximise the opportunities to deliver affordable properties including social rented properties and will seek to leverage funding through Homes England funding regimes to support this where scheme viability is an issue. The priority, driven by the severe affordability issues in areas within our borough, is to protect and increase the supply of social housing in Gateshead alongside the provision of other affordable housing options.
4.7 We are working to deliver the aims and objectives of the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan for Gateshead and Newcastle 2010-2030. This is targeting the delivery of family homes, which are in high demand. We are balancing this with the need to protect our green spaces and even replace what is lost by development, all of which is captured in part 3 of the strategy; Making Spaces for Growing Places.
4.8 There is currently a pipeline of sites identified for development which incorporate affordable housing. Of those under development, it is anticipated that over 400 affordable units will be built, including 286 for affordable rent. The range of affordable tenures will allow some people to get onto the property ladder and include 72 units for shared ownership and another 15 for discounted market sales.
4.9 Of the affordable units under construction, a range of property types will be provided. These will primarily be two- and three-bed houses and one-bed flats. The council works proactively with registered providers and developers to influence property type; this is informed by the housing register.
4.10 We also recognise that our registered providers may have to dispose of stock where it is not cost effective to maintain it to the Decent Homes Standard, or it is hard to let, either because of the type of accommodation or area in which it is located. Where this becomes necessary, particularly where a property has been given in trust, or where Gateshead or Homes England have invested in the property, the full gain (less any transaction and ancillary costs) from disposal should be reinvested back into the borough.
4.11 Social housing may be repurposed where disposal is not the most effective solutions, and the council will work with the relevant landlord to obtain the best possible outcome.
4.12 The partnership between the council and landlord ensures that adequate notice is given of any proposed disposal, thereby allowing the council to consider the variety of options available to it.
4.13 To avoid property disposals as a result of poor property standards, we expect all social landlords to maintain their property portfolios to the Decent Homes Standard or equivalent or higher standard. This will also promote the benefits of better health and wellbeing.
4.14 There is growing evidence that by joining up planning for housing with planning for health and wellbeing, significant benefits both to individuals and communities can be seen, helping people to thrive. This is one of the council's priorities, and our commitment together with registered providers is to:
- deliver social homes to the Decent Homes Standard or higher
- build genuinely affordable places to live where residents can settle and develop a commitment to their local community
5.1 The Government promotes work to reduce dependency on benefits, so it is important that rent levels in Gateshead are affordable and do not deter the tenant from entering employment.
5.2 Our Housing Strategy developed with planning sets out the delivery aims for an affordable housing programme that has the right mix of social housing products and sets out the measures that we employ to achieve the desired outcomes. We recognise a coordinated approach with registered providers is essential to deliver those outcomes.
5.3 Each scheme that is considered will aim for the most affordable rent level. A social rent comparison will be undertaken in order to determine whether the rents will be formula rents or affordable rents set at 80% market rent level. We have to consider scheme viability and the cost to the tenant overall in terms of rent and service charge when considering the rent level.
5.4 If we look at rent levels now it gives an indication of where we are and the need to keep a downward pressure on rent levels when we take into consideration the average weekly income. Rents for social housing should be based on social-rent levels and ideally should be no more than 30% of a household 'take home' pay where this is viable and achievable. Higher than this and it will prove a barrier to those on low income, including people on apprenticeships and key workers.
|1 bed||2 bed||3 bed||4 bed|
|Private - 30th percentile||£97||£115||£137||£207|
|Private - 80% median||£82||£101||£120||£188|
|Private - median||£103||£126||£150||£235|
|Private - upper quartile||£126||£150||£173||£300|
The council also has larger units with average weekly rents of:
- 5 bed £106
- 6 bed £109
- 7 bed £123
- 8 bed £118
5.5 We can also look at shared-ownership weekly rents in terms of affordability. The percentages represent the equity owned by the tenant. The tenant pays rent based on the equity they own and their mortgage.
|1 bed flat||£44||£52||£63||£51||£62||£73|
|2 bed flat||£50||£61||£72||£57||£70||£82|
|3 bed house||£81||£98||£115||£106||£128||£151|
Figures are derived from median house prices and do not include ground rent or service charges. Rents are assumed at 2.75% and mortgage payments are derived from average bank and building society rates. Loan-to-value is assumed at 90% in all cases - it is assumed that the buyer has made a 10% deposit on the portion of the property they have bought. Homebuy assumes a 75% purchase with a 25% equity loan on which no payments are made.
5.6 In order to put affordability into context we may review the diagram below.
This chart shows the number of households in different household income bands in the area (bars) compared to the lower quartile price for different property types in the same area (horizontal lines). The diagonal lines rising from left to right show the value of property that can be afforded at different income multiples by a first-time buyer and former owner-occupier. The affordability calculations are based on a multiple of the average household income adjusted by the average loan to value for the different types of buyer. The house price data is based on data from the Hometrack Automated Valuation Model and the incomes data is supplied by CACI.
5.7 New tenants are unlikely to have sufficient savings to secure a deposit or pay rent in advance. We ask that registered providers reflect the payment of rent in advance at signup in their policies and have a flexible payment approach to allow the tenant to build the sufficient level of credit over time.
6.1 Since the introduction of the Localism Act 2011, local authorities can discharge their homelessness duties through an offer of suitable accommodation in the private rented sector. Where properties of a suitable standard can be found at the right cost, Gateshead will undertake a suitability check and, if successful, will make an offer of private sector accommodation in line with the Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities and the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2012.
6.2 We are working to understand the numbers of private sector landlords in Gateshead in order to secure a supply of good quality properties. Where budgets allow, we offer incentives and grants to private sector landlords to help them improve their properties and maintain them to safe standards appropriate for letting. We seek to establish affordable rents within the private sector with capping at the Local Housing Allowance. This is an area of work we would like to make strides on developing over the next few years.
6.3 Over the next 12 months we are seeking to build a partnership framework with registered providers which will enable us to work together to discharge our homeless duty in both council and register provider stock. As we develop the partnership agreement, we will scope the arrangements around how refugees are housed and the allocation and letting of homes from the housing register. It is intended that registered providers will be able to advertise their property on the Gateshead choice-based lettings system which is due for completion by April 2023.
Rights and responsibilities
7.1 All tenants need to be able to make informed choices about their housing options. We will work with our registered providers to make the process of offering tenancies as clear and transparent as possible. It is essential that applicants understand what they are being offered. All registered providers understand the need to explain the rights and responsibilities in a pre-tenancy session, usually called a signup or tenancy determination.
Licence to occupy
7.2 Tenants in our temporary accommodation are signed up on non-secure tenancies, usually a licence to occupy. The home is not permanent and only available to the household whilst the Council assesses their duty under the Homelessness legislation.
Introductory or starter tenancies
7.3 Starter or Introductory tenancies are usually offered to someone who has never held a social tenancy before or someone who requires support during the initial period of their tenancy.
7.4 The initial period is for 12 months, after which it will convert to a lifetime tenancy unless the relevant notices have been served to extend the introductory/starter period for a further 6 months. This may be done where the tenant would benefit from further support or intensive management.
7.5 The landlord must hold regular reviews with the tenant and provide them with every assistance and support to sustain the tenancy, including signposting them to external agencies where necessary.
7.6 Where the initial 12 months has been extended or a decision has been made to commence possession proceedings, the tenant has a statutory right of appeal, and the landlord must invest in the resources to undertake these effectively.
7.7 Social rented homes support our strategic objective to provide residents with long term, genuinely affordable homes. Lifetime tenancies are the preferred tenancy type in most circumstances and in our view, this should be the default offer to tenants.
7.8 Landlords are asked to offer assured (non-shorthold) tenancies (as defined by the Housing Act 1988). These can only be ended if the tenant breaches the tenancy conditions, and the landlord obtains possession through the Court.
7.9 Social housing tenants with lifetime tenancies that were issued before 01 April 2012, and who have remained social housing tenants, have their security of tenure protected by law. The Localism Act 2011 s.154 and regulatory framework for social housing require all landlords to offer lifetime tenancies when these tenants move to another social rented home. This includes mutual exchanges, transfers, or moves as a result of major works or regeneration. Where a social housing tenant has been given a lifetime tenancy on or after 01 April 2012, and they swap their home with a social housing tenant who has a fixed term tenancy, they will lose their lifetime tenancy.
7.10 The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 requires in cases of domestic abuse, that landlords issue new lifetime tenancies, where a tenant previously had a lifetime tenancy. We expect this to be undertaken by their own landlord. but where this is not possible or they need emergency rehousing, this will be assessed under the homelessness legislation by the local authority.
7.11 We expect lifetime tenancies to be issued to vulnerable tenants with long term support or care needs. This may include the following:
- those with enduring mental health needs
- those with a learning disability
- some types of physical disability
- older people in supported accommodation (but not adapted properties)
- older people moving into specialist, sheltered or extra care housing, particularly those giving up a larger home and a lifetime tenancy
- those needing specialist care
7.12 Most Registered Providers, but not all, offer fixed term tenancies, particularly when letting at Affordable Rent or the property is adapted. The Regulator of Social Housing expects that fixed term tenancies should be for a minimum of five years or no later than the 19th birthday of the oldest child wherever sooner. They may also be granted a fixed term tenancy for a minimum of two years where the initial 12 months of an introductory tenancy has been concluded.
7.13 Landlords who issue fixed term tenancies must have a policy supported by an Equalities and Communities Impact Assessment, stating clearly under what circumstances they will be granted.
7.14 Fixed term tenancies which are less than five years are used exceptionally in some of the following cases:
- for short term supported housing designated as move-on
- where it is linked to employment or educational opportunities such key worker accommodation, where the renewal of tenancies should take place at the renewal of an employment contract subject to suitability of the accommodation
7.15 We support the use of fixed term tenancies in properties that have been purpose built or substantially adapted for disabled occupants. Such adaptations can be expensive, and it is important that adapted homes are made available and let to those who need them. We would expect that the tenancy is automatically renewed if there have been no changes in the household circumstances. However, if there has been a change, and the adaptations are no longer needed, the household should be re-housed by their landlord.
7.16 Fixed term tenancies; at nine and six months before the tenancy end date. At nine months they should be given an indication as to whether there tenancy will be renewed. They must receive notice by six months if their tenancy is not going to be renewed and the reasons should be explained clearly together with an alternative housing solution plan; one of the avenues being a referral to the council in line with the provision made by the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
7.17 Exceptional circumstances where a tenancy is not renewed may include:
- where a tenant wishes to end their own tenancy
- where the home has been adapted but those adaptations are no longer required, and the home would meet the needs of another household on the housing register
- where the behaviour of the tenant is prohibitive, and the landlord has exhausted all measures to provide tenancy support
8.1 We are committed to helping tenants to maintain their tenancy in both temporary accommodation, private rented and council accommodation. The council's tenancy management policy sets our remit in relation to tenancy sustainment, and we have the same expectation of our landlords in relation to:
- a range of targeted visits during the lifespan of a tenancy
- rehousing where financial hardship would lead to tenancy failure
- a housing support service, covering a range of advice and assistance
- tenant orientated employment opportunities
- tackling antisocial behaviour through a range of measures
- making it easier for tenants to manage their own homes
8.2 The aim, whether delivered by the council or one of its partner landlords, is to provide the right aid at the right time, and at times this may be bespoke to a household. Tenants who have been allocated a general-needs property may need supported housing and this will be assessed as one of the measures.
8.3 Where a tenancy is failing but has not yet met the threshold for eviction, we may consider a safe surrender agreement if rehousing is the only way to assist the tenant and the landlord has exhausted all other ways to keep them safely in their home. The agreement would be between the landlord, the homeless service and the tenant who surrenders their tenancy on a voluntarily basis thereby allowing the council to pick them up under a prevention duty rather than an intentionally homeless.
8.4 Safe surrender agreements and possession of a property should be a last resort and every effort should be made to sustain the tenancy where possible. We recognise that may not be possible where the housing needs of the individual may be complex and not suited to the accommodation. We will work with registered landlords and private landlords to find a way to keep tenants in their home and where this is not possible to identify a satisfactory solution.
8.5 Where domestic abuse is identified, a solution that looks at the best outcome for the survivors including children will be sought. Where relocation of the perpetrator would provide the best remedy, this may be considered as an option on a case-by-case basis.
9.1 Legislation has a provision for statutory succession rights for secure and assured tenants. There is one right to succeed. The law does not grant a further succession right if the successor then dies.
9.2 Historically, there were significant differences between the succession rights of assured and secure tenants. The Localism Act 2011 introduced changes to harmonise succession between the two, however there remains significant differences, the Localism Act changes affect tenancies granted from April 2012 onwards, but not those granted before that date.
9.3 Some landlords offer more generous succession rights than the statutory legal minimum, allowing tenancy rights to be passed on a second time or to be conferred in circumstances when the tenant would not normally qualify for a statutory succession. The rights may be contractual - that is, written into their tenancy agreement or discretionary and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
9.4 The Tenancy Standard governed by the Regulator of Social Housing requires social landlords to have a succession policy which explains all the succession rights that apply to their tenants.
10.1 The Council needs family sized accommodation and expects all landlords to provide incentives and assistance to any of its tenants who wish to move to a smaller property. They should be encouraged to join the housing register and their application will be awarded a priority that reflect the demand for larger properties.
10.2 Residents who claim benefits in under occupied units are subject to the Spare Room Subsidy (also known as bedroom tax), which can have a negative impact, making affordability an issue and having a detrimental effect on health and wellbeing. Anyone who is a permanent part of the household but not living with them at the time of the application will be taken into account before moving them to a smaller property.
10.3 We will work with landlords to aid in this activity and promote the available funding options to facilitate small works or adaptations to meet identified needs.
Moving for employment, social or welfare reasons
10.4 It is important for tenants who wish to move for employment, or for support and welfare reasons, to be able to do so easily. Applicants on the housing register wishing to transfer for these reasons will be awarded suitable priority.
10.5 Registered providers should enable suitable moves to support the recruitment and retention of essential key workers, health and support workers in the borough.
10.6 Consideration and support should be given to the priority awards set out in the Council's Allocation Policy.
11.1 As a local authority, we are supportive of creating new opportunities for those who wish to own their own home. However, we are also acutely aware of the need to maintain the availability of genuinely affordable rented accommodation.
11.2 Tenants who are eligible will be able to purchase their home from their landlord provided it is not exempt.
- council tenants will have a Right to Buy
- registered provider tenants may be able to purchase through the voluntary Right to Buy or the Right to Acquire schemes
11.3 Registered providers will keep the Council informed of any purchases through these schemes in order for us to maintain the data of available social rented stock in the borough.
11.4 As part of our working relationship with registered providers, we ask that the following properties be exempt from purchase:
- properties in rural locations, where the number of available properties are low, and the aim is to preserve current community stability
- designated accommodation for older people, where this accommodation is in short supply
- specialist or supported housing
- disabled adapted properties secured through planning obligations
- shared accommodation
12.1 Gateshead will monitor the delivery of this strategy via:
- discussions with residents of the borough
- tenancy sustainment reviews by registered providers
- feedback from the private rented sector annual appraisals with registered providers and the effectiveness of their own tenancy policies
12.2 In addition to the above, the council has regular registered provider partnership meetings throughout the year. The effectiveness of the strategy will be discussed at prescribed intervals at these meetings.
12.3 This strategy will be reviewed every five years - unless legislation, business or sector developments require otherwise - to ensure that it continues to meet the stated objectives and takes account of good practice developments.
12.4 We aim to mitigate any risk associated with the delivery of this strategy and its implementation by landlord tenancy policies through discussion and negotiation.
12.5 Rent levels and affordability on new and existing properties will be subject to scrutiny and aligned with the housing strategy.
12.6 The action identified by the homeless review will be planned and executed to achieve the highest possible outcome. Equally Gateshead will take the necessary measures to embed the new Housing Model.
Under the Equality Act 2010, and in particular section 149 of the Public Sector Equality Duty, councils are required to give due regard to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not, when exercising a public function such as a landlord. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
This strategy complies with the Council's which sets out our commitments to ensuring in equality in service delivery. It was subjected to an Integrated Impact Assessment (IiA) before it has being adopted. The impact will continue to be monitored throughout the administration of the strategy.
We will produce a delivery plan with our partners, using the aims and the actions identified within the strategy. We have a shared commitment across our key partners and stakeholders to support the delivery of this strategy, as the achievement of our vision is dependent upon their contribution. The Strategic Housing Board and the Health and Wellbeing Board will have oversight of the implementation of the strategy and will monitor and review progress.
Gateshead Council and the Housing Providers Partnership will jointly own the strategy. The intention is to establish a formal partnership to be responsible for delivery and it will include other partners. A project team will be established to drive the changes and lead partners will be identified for the delivery of specific actions.