Ten things to look out for in housing in 2017
CIH's head of practice Debbie Larner runs through her ten things to look out for in housing in 2017.
1. Back in 2012 the Localism Act (remember that?) introduced flexible/fixed term tenancies – the policy was discretionary and there wasn’t a huge amount of take up. As most adopters chose a fixed period of five years, 2017 will bring the first batch of tenancy reviews. It will be interesting to see how these are managed, how may are renewed automatically and how many tenants are helped to move on to alternative accommodation. Look out for our research on this coming later in the year. We’d love to hear from you if you are going through this - please do get in touch if you want to be involved.
2. Talking of fixed term tenancies, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will introduce mandatory fixed term tenancies for local authorities – like many of the provisions in the act, we are still waiting for details and the timeframe. There is work to do to prepare for implementation – look out for our guidance on how to gear up during 2017.
3. Still on the Housing and Planning Act – while there is still a lot of unknowns, we do know that provisions around the PRS will come into force in 2017 – so look out new duties on tackling rogue landlord including new civil penalties, extended rent repayment orders and banning orders.
4. Will 2017 see the beginning of the end of choice-based lettings schemes in England? There is significant debate about how fit for purpose CBL schemes are in light of affordability concerns, welfare changes and the changing relationships between housing associations and local authorities. We are planning to look at this in a bit more detail in the spring.
5. 2017 will bring us a new (ish) Social Housing Regulator as the HCA separates its investment and regulatory functions. We will potentially see the introduction of fees from April 2017 (although there is some debate about the timings). The regulator has recently said that their central focus will be on holding housing providers to account on meeting their core objectives.
6. During 2017 we will watch the passage of the Homeless Reduction Bill through parliament. While it’s still unclear whether it will become law this year, housing associations and local authorities need to get geared up and ready for action. We are working closely with DCLG to help them support a smooth implementation.
7. Technology, technology and more technology. We are now in the era of the “internet of everything” and “big data” – I will leave that to my colleagues at HouseMark as it’s way out of my league, but the whole channel shift and digital agenda will continue to explode during 2017. Watch out for our good practice guidance later in the year.
8. Are you ready for the new wave of apprenticeships? The apprenticeship levy will be introduced in 2017 and will impact on most housing providers. This will be a great opportunity to embrace new talent into our sector and skill up a whole new generation of housing providers.
9. Will 2017 see the implementation of right to buy for housing associations? I think this is actually unlikely – instead we will see the scheme being piloted (again!). We’ll be keeping a close eye on the new pilots and will let you know about their progress and the lessons learnt.
10. The roll out of Universal Credit continues in 2017. We have seen some worrying reports about the levels of arrears linked to UC – we will continue to argue for the removal of the seven-day waiting period – maybe we can learn some lessons from our colleagues in Scotland who plan to introduce more flexibity around UC payments?
Debbie Larner is head of practice at CIH.