There can be no doubt that the Social Housing sector is undergoing a period of significant change which will have far reaching consequences for how housing associations will operate in a changed environment. The Autumn Statement on Wednesday confirms this fact.
As our English housing association clients consider how best to respond, we have recently been helping them navigate their way through a veritable minefield of recent draft legislation and cost cutting proposals. We have also been advising our clients on how they might diversify their services to take advantage of recent Government home ownership initiatives, whilst continuing to deliver an effective overall management service to their existing residents.
For example, our team of social housing lawyers have been assisting our clients in respect of the following:
- Advising on the impact of the 1% rent reduction proposal in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, including preparing a plain English version of the rent reduction proposals contained in that Bill;
- Advising on the legal and practical implications of the “Pay to Stay” and extended Right to Buy proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill, including preparing a plain English version of these proposals contained in that Bill;
- Advising on the practical implications of Immigration Act 2014 and the Immigration Bill, including preparing a plain English version of the relevant provisions of both the Act and Bill;
- Advising on the impact of the Care Act 2014, including providing training on how to comply with the obligations contained within that legislation;
- Providing advice and preparing fixed term tenancy agreements, and related policies and procedures that underpin those agreements, alongside advising on the legal implications of the Government’s proposal to end lifetime tenancies;
- Advising on the implications of the recent decision by the Office of National Statistics to reclassify housing associations as public sector bodies, including advising on Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Judicial Review implications of this decision;
- Advising on establishing and managing student accommodation, Guardian Schemes and properties to let for market rent.
- Advising on managing Mixed Use Estates, including dealing with leasehold disputes in the First Tier Tribunal;
- Advising on home ownership products that could be offered to new and existing residents.
The Clarke Willmott Social Housing team has a national reputation and our dedicated social housing lawyers are recognised specialists in this field.
Nicholas Grundy, Head of Five Paper Chambers, has worked with us to deliver much of the cutting edge advice stated above. Nicholas’ thoughts on the changing times for social landlords are as follows:
“These are uncertain times for Social Housing Providers, the Chancellors’ Autumn Statement illustrates that the Government prefers home ownership to social renting, as exemplified by the extension of right to buy to housing association tenants. With such an uncertain future good legal advice is absolutely critical.”
We continue to work closely with our clients and sector organisations to ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of providing housing and asset management advice to our clients in these challenging times.
For more information about our services, please contact Kary Withers, Head of the Housing and Asset Management Team, on 0345 209 1594 or Senga Howells, Solicitor in the Housing and Asset Management Team, on 0345 209 1574.