New social housing reforms to crack down on rule breakers

Those who commit anti-social behaviour to face a ban of up to five years. People with closest connections to the UK and their local areas to be favoured

An overhaul of how social housing is allocated, to make the system fairer and not available to those who abuse it, was announced by the Government today.

Measures which could ban those who blight communities and repeatedly make their neighbours’ lives hell through anti-social behaviour or evict them through a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy, are part of the new consultation.

At the same time, new measures will prioritise households who have a close connection to the UK and their local area.  

Housing Minister Lee Rowley said:    

"Today we are proposing further steps to make the allocation of social housing fairer for people. If you abuse the system, making peoples’ lives a misery or actively work against our British values, you are making a choice – such choices will have consequences and our proposals seek to stop such people getting a social home.

"The message is clear: play by the rules, pay in and we will support you. If you choose not to, this country is not going to be a soft touch.

"The public want to know decent and hardworking people that have contributed to this country will be prioritised for new social tenancies. People already living in social homes want to know that anyone moving near them will be respectful of their neighbours with their communities protected from those who persistently break the law.

"That is why it is right that the finite resource of social housing is allocated fairly and local law-abiding citizens in need have more access to a home in their own communities."

The Government is seeking views from the public, councils, social housing tenants and providers and wants to bring forward the reforms as soon as possible.

The reforms include new UK and local connection tests to determine social housing eligibility, with applicants required to demonstrate a connection to the UK for at least ten years and their local area for at least two years. Prospective tenants on higher incomes could also no longer qualify for social housing, although existing tenants will not be affected.

As part of the reforms, people who have unspent convictions for certain criminal anti-social behaviour or have been subject to certain civil sanctions could be disqualified from social housing for up to five years.

This sits alongside measures which could disqualify terrorist offenders from benefiting from social housing.

Changes will be delivered by secondary legislation at the earliest opportunity.

The proposals build on the significant reforms already introduced by the Government to improve the quality and quantity of the country’s social housing stock. This includes the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, under which the powers of the Regulator of Social Housing to hold poorly performing landlords to account have been strengthened and social housing residents’ access to redress has been improved due to new powers for the Housing Ombudsman.  

This sits alongside the £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme, helping to deliver more of the affordable, quality homes this country needs, which will unlock a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing. It builds on the government’s record since 2010 – with over 696,000 new affordable homes delivered, including over 172,000 for social rent.

Access to most social housing is managed by local housing authorities, who only allocate homes to people who are eligible and who qualify.

These proposed new national requirements will provide greater consistency for social housing applicants and local housing authorities, ultimately providing a fairer overall service.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Lee Rowley MP