Wealden District Council
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Wealden District Council Tenancy Strategy Updated 2017

Map of Wealden

1. Introduction and Aims of the Strategy

2. The kinds of tenancies to Grant

3. The circumstances for granting a tenancy of a particular kind

4. Lengths for fixed term tenancies

5. Deciding whether to end a fixed term tenancy at the end of its term

6. Housing Advice and Assistance

7. Rent conversions to affordable rent, stock disposals and affordability

8. Monitoring and review of this Strategy


Appendix 1 – Length of residence of household by tenure

Appendix 2 – Turnover of Stock in Wealden

Appendix 3 – Current Local Authority Social, Registered Providers Social, Registered Providers affordable and Local Housing Allowance


The Localism Act 2011 required Local Authorities to produce and publish a tenancy strategy by January 2013. Our strategy was published in November 2012 and updated in 2017.

The legislation requires that the Strategy must set out the matters to which the registered providers of social housing operating in the district are to have regard to in formulating policies, including:

a. The kind of tenancies they grant,

b. The circumstances in which they will grant a tenancy of a particular kind,

c. Where they grant tenancies for a term certain, the lengths of the terms, and

d. The circumstances in which they will grant a further tenancy on the coming to an end of an existing tenancy.

The East Sussex Local Authorities have worked together to develop a framework document for East Sussex, which sits above this Strategy.

A bit about Wealden

  • Wealden is the largest district in East Sussex covering 323 square miles.
  • Half of its 148,915 population live in the five main towns of Polegate, Hailsham, Heathfield, Uckfield and Crowborough. The remaining population live in the 37 smaller and more rural parishes in Wealden.
  • High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the South Downs National Park together cover some 60% of the District.
  • In addition, Wealden has 34 conservation areas and 32 sites of special scientific interest. Wealden has more than 2,500 listed buildings.
  • Wealden has an ageing population, with the most significant growth of those aged 80+.

Social Housing in Wealden

As at 2011 Census there were 62,676 properties in the District, of which 78.7% of these are owner-occupied which is higher than the national average of 63%, but a smaller private rented sector at 11.1% compared to 20% nationally as well as a smaller social/affordable rented sector at 7.7% compared to 17%.

The Council continues to own and manage its own housing stock of around 3,000 homes. In addition there are just over 2,550 housing association rented homes in Wealden. The stock is made up of retirement living housing, flats/maisonettes, bungalows and houses.

Aims of the Strategy

The Strategy aims to make sure the current and future housing needs of Wealden’s local community is met. However it also recognises the opportunities and constraints within which Registered Providers operate, while also aiming to:

  • Support the delivery of the Countywide strategic housing aims as set out in ‘Pride of Place’, and the East Sussex Housing & Support Strategy
  • Support the delivery of Wealden District Council’s Corporate Plan and Housing and Homelessness Strategies
  • Encourage the development of new social housing
  • Make the best use of available housing stock, including reducing overcrowding, tackling under occupation and making the best use of adapted housing for those with a disability
  • Maximise choice for applicants through providing a range of types of properties across the District
  • Make sure the needs of vulnerable people are met

Key Principles:

Housing plays a vital role in society. It not only supports community stability, it actively underpins social cohesion and promotes the notion of home as a secure place from which to participate in society and the economy at large.

1. Social housing is a scarce resource and should be allocated to those most in need for the time that they need it.

2. Sustainable and mixed communities are essential to create vibrant, successful areas where people want to live.

3. Tenants that feel settled where they live usually invest in their home and the local community.


The Localism Act 2011 for the first time gave Local Authorities and Housing Associations (known as Registered Providers) the ability to offer in addition to their current tenancies, fixed term tenancies, usually for 5 or more years (2 years in exceptional circumstances). The Housing and Planning Act 2016 went further and requires that all new council tenancies are granted for fixed terms of between two and 10 years (or until the youngest child reaches 16).

It is clear that a lack of affordable housing is an issue in Wealden and the use of fixed term tenancies may give the opportunity to improve this though tackling under occupation and improving stock turnover. However, this needs to be balanced against the need to create sustainable communities and providing stability to households, particularly those with children.

In 2015/16 there was a social/affordable housing stock turnover of just over 9% (512 homes) in Wealden against a housing register of 9793 households who are waiting for suitable affordable accommodation (see Appendix 2).

Key Principles

All landlords will be expected to provide advice and assistance to tenants about the type of tenancy they hold before they take the tenancy on.

In the case of fixed term tenancies advice and assistance is also critical when carrying out a review at the end of the fixed term period (see Chapter 6).



For most households a fixed term tenancy is appropriate allowing them to be matched to more appropriate housing as their circumstances change. However, subject to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 the housing needs of those going into housing association sheltered housing/retirement living or extra care housing are different from most other clients. Unlike most other clients their housing needs are unlikely to change and if they do they will probably be better met by specialised housing such as a nursing home. Giving sheltered housing/retirement living and extra care tenants fixed term/ tenancies would create unnecessary administration, expense and upheaval.

It is also important to have a degree of flexibility regarding local lettings plans. Through such plans assured tenancies may be used to help balance and sustain communities.

Key Principles

Fixed term tenancies provide a good opportunity to increase the turnover of homes and to make the best use of the existing stock. However, we encourage Registered Providers to offer the security of an assured tenancy for:

a) sheltered/retirement living and extra care accommodation for older people

b) as part of an agreed local lettings plan for a particular area



Registered Providers are able to offer tenancies for a minimum of 5 years (2 in exceptional circumstances) and the Housing and Planning Act 2016 once implemented will allow them to grant tenancies up to 10 yeas (or until the youngest child in the household reaches 16). It is important that tenancies for less than 5 years are only used in exceptional circumstances. This is because they may have a detrimental impact on social or community sustainability and on the individual tenancy.

Key Principles

The Council feels where fixed term tenancies are to be offered, they should be offered for a minimum period of 5 years, excluding any probation period given through starter/introductory tenancies (i.e. starter/introductory tenancy if used and then a 5 year fixed tenancy). Any period between 2-5 years will only be supported in exceptional circumstances and should be agreed in writing with the Head of Housing Services at Wealden District Council before being used.

We favour having one tenancy length for all tenancies regardless of the household make-up to ensure equality.


When a fixed term tenancy comes to an end, Registered Providers are able to:

a) grant a new fixed term tenancy at the same property

b) seek possession of the current property but provide another fixed term tenancy at a different property;

c) Seek possession of the current property without offering an alternative property

Whatever option is chosen they must also provide advice and assistance, for example to find alternative accommodation e.g. buying a home or renting privately if no new tenancy is being granted.

If the registered provider does nothing or fails to review the tenancy 6-9 months before it is due to end then a new 5 year tenancy automatically arises by virtue of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Registered Provider’s tenancy policy must detail the circumstances in which a tenancy will be renewed or ended.

Registered Providers are required to undertake tenancy reviews at least six months prior to the end of the fixed term period. This gives the tenant adequate time to find alternative accommodation if their current tenancy is to be ended. It also provides sufficient time for the Registered Provider to provide help and support to a tenant looking for a new home.

Social housing is scarce resource in Wealden and should be made available to those with housing needs that cannot be easily met elsewhere within the wider housing market.

Fixed term tenancies offer an opportunity to regularly review and then match the available social housing stock to the needs of different households. However, preventing and reducing homelessness is a key priority and registered providers are therefore expected to take all reasonable action to reduce the risk that any displaced tenants do not become homeless by providing advice and assistance with move-on accommodation.

It must also be noted that before the end of the fixed term tenancy a tenant might apply for the “Right to Buy” or “Right to Acquire”. Subject to eligibility fixed term tenants have the same rights as secure/assured tenants once any introductory period has been successfully served.

Key principles

We do not wish to be prescriptive on the factors that Registered Providers should have regard to in deciding whether to end or renew a fixed term tenancy. However, we feel there are certain circumstances under which a Registered Provider, after review of individual tenancies, may consider seeking possession.

These are:

a) Where a household is under occupying and possession would provide an opportunity to make best use of the property in question, and suitable alternative accommodation is available.

b) Where there are significant breaches of tenancy which would usually warrant ‘outright possession’ and where eviction proceedings are already underway.

c) Where there is an adaptation that is no longer required and possession would provide an opportunity to make best use of the property in question, and suitable alternative accommodation is available.

d) Where the property is not suitable to meet the needs of the tenant and a suitable alternative property is available for their occupation.

e) Where a tenant’s financial circumstances have changed significantly to enable the tenant to secure a home in the private sector whether through renting or homeownership (including shared ownership).

In carrying out the review 6 months before the end of the tenancy we would encourage Registered Providers to have regard to ensure that the housing and support needs of vulnerable groups are met.


Tenants must receive clear and consistent information:

a) At sign up, regardless of the type of tenancy they are being offered including on how their tenancy could be ended and the terms of their fixed term tenancy even when a starter/introductory tenancy is being issued.

b) When seeking to end their tenancy including through mutual exchange or a transfer.

c) If their tenancy is not being renewed.

to avoid an increase in the use of the Council’s housing advice services and homelessness.

Key principles

The Council expects Registered Providers to play a proactive role in advising tenants appropriately. Including prior to tenancy sign up, where they are transferring and assisting them in finding move-on accommodation at the end of a fixed term tenancy. Registered Providers should ensure the processes are written into their tenancy policy.

Registered providers should also ensure vulnerable tenants receive appropriate support this may include making a referral to Homeworks for those aged 64 years and under and STEPS for those aged 65+.

Registered Providers should ensure that tenancy reviews are undertaken at least 6 months prior to the end of the fixed term/flexible tenancy. It is essential during the review that appropriate advice is given, move-on accommodation is facilitated and additional casework for the Council’s homelessness and housing options team is avoided.


The majority of new build rented affordable housing will have rents of 80% of market rent.
Registered Providers also have the ability to convert existing social rented properties to the new affordable rent model, when properties become vacant, and to dispose of stock. In most cases conversions and disposals will be necessary to provide viability of the Registered Providers current and future development plans.

Key Principles

The Council understands the need of Registered Providers to build new homes at affordable rent and as necessary to convert existing housing stock to affordable rent models in order to generate funding to build new homes. However, when letting properties at an affordable rent Registered Providers should adhere to the following principles:

a) Homes must remain affordable
b) Avoiding concentrating rent conversions to particular areas of the District – particularly in the rural areas where affordability may become a future issue
c) Ensuring sustainability of the individual tenancy and the community.

Registered Providers should have transparent strategies for identifying voids for affordable rents and also properties for disposal. We expect them to work with us in order to agree areas for such conversions and/or disposals. Work that we undertake may identify areas where affordable rents would not be affordable and we would expect Registered Providers to work with us to develop local lettings plans to ensure our communities are sustainable.

Appendix 2 shows that the cost of some properties in the District at affordable rents (80%) come significantly close to (and in some cases exceeds) the Local Housing Allowance rate.

This Strategy is designed to sit below and complement the East Sussex Tenancy framework, which will be monitored by the East Sussex Housing Officer Group and its sub-groups. Monitoring will cover the following areas:

  • Housing Register and Homelessness statistics
  • Tenure changes through stock profiling
  • Rent levels
  • Void times (vacancy to re-let)
  • Percentage turnover of stock

Wealden will monitor this Strategy and review it a least every 5 years, updating it as necessary.

Type of tenure

Less than 1 year

1-2 years

2-5 years

5+ years


occupied – no mortgage






Occupied mortgage





Social Rented











Source: Housing Needs Survey 2009


Total stock

Council vacancies

Registered Provider Vacancies

Total vacancies

Vacancies as a percentage

of stock

















































Source: Locata Choice Based Lettings System

Property Size

Council Social Rent

Affordable Rent

Local Housing Allowance





1 bed




2 beds




3 beds




Source: Wealden’s Housing Management System, as at 1st April 2016. Please note where N/A is used we do not currently have these types of property at that type of rent.