Local lettings policies are an important tool that can be used to respond to specific local circumstances and are one of the main vehicles for local authorities and housing associations to use flexibilities within their overall allocation scheme for social and affordable rented housing.
Local lettings must not dominate the local authority’s scheme at the expense of statutory reasonable preference categories and if used, their nature and scope must be published alongside the allocation scheme, but may be used to achieve a wide variety of housing management and policy objectives.
Local lettings policies can work well to provide clarity in the allocation process for the social and affordable rented housing within CLH schemes, if there is a good understanding between all parties with respect for what the community led organisation are creating and managing in the long term. This will require the input of both the local authority and the CLH organisation (and registered provider if different from the CLH organisation), working in partnership to create a successful local lettings policy.
Typical Contents of a Local Lettings Policy
There is no standard form of local lettings policy and since the issues to be addressed will be at a local level, no one set of wording is available to cover all needs. When creating a local lettings policy consideration must be given to equalities legislation to ensure the policy does not discriminate against particular groups. Set out below are the headings of a typical policy and an outline of the issues to consider.
Purpose and scope of the policy
- The aim of the policy is to allocate social and affordable rented homes to specific types of people on the housing register to achieve particular housing management or policy objectives.
- The policy should contain wording which will set out:
- Who will be eligible to be housed; how will the aim be fulfilled
- The objectives of the policy;
- How the views of the community have shaped the policy
- The impact of the policy (equalities/other) and
- How the policy will be monitored/reviewed and reporting mechanisms
- How long the policy is applicable for
Creation of the policy
This is best approached as a scoping exercise with all parties:
- Are there social and affordable rented homes within the CLH project? If not, then a local lettings policy is not required
- Is the purpose of the CLH project clearly understood? Is it for a specific group of people e.g. over 50+ or LGBT+; is it for a specific local community, and thus requires a residency criterion or does it meet a broader community interest that requires a wider geographical or cross boundary approach?
- Are there specific housing management or community stewardship objectives to be met?
- Are there any relevant planning documents? This might set out specific requirements that need to be complied with
- How priority is determined may also be need to be considered in respect of the overall allocation scheme
Which stakeholders may be consulted?
In creating a local lettings policy, the Council may want to be aware of who the CLH housing organisation has already consulted with. This may (or may be required to) include:
- Local residents / community groups
- Board members
- Local authority officers
- Elected members
- Other organisations (e.g. Health services / Social services / Support / Advocacy agencies).
Key Processes for Approval
The Local Lettings policy is a Council owned policy and will require the appropriate approval.
The CLH organisation should clearly outline what is the objective and need for the local lettings policy in making a request for a specific scheme (i.e. is the purpose of the policy to assist specific individuals in the community or is it to assist with need and/or demand in a geographical area). It is good practice for the CLH organisation (and RP if different) to gain the approval of their board members/trustees before implementation of the policy.