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Tenancy and rent level changes



Tenancy Strategy for Somerset

The Localism Act (2011) requires all District and Unitary authorities to publish a Tenancy Strategy to provide the framework for the future delivery of new affordable homes. You can see a copy of our Tenancy Strategy in the publications section.


The following information is to inform existing tenants together with those looking for social housing about the changes being made to the types of tenancies and rents available through Homefinder Somerset.

The Government has published changes in the Localism Act (2011) to enable social landlords, at their own discretion, to let properties on a fixed term (that is a minimum of 5 years in most circumstances) rather than for the life of the tenant.

Differences in the length of Tenancy offered:-

  • Lifetime Tenancies (Secure & Assured)

  • Fixed Term Tenancies (known as flexible tenancies)

Rent Levels:-

In addition the Government has enabled social landlords to let properties at what will be called an 'Affordable Rent' as part of their contract for developing new homes.  These rents will be at a level of up to 80% of the market rent locally. The additional funding raised will be used to pay for new affordable homes. For some landlords new properties will have to be let at 'Affordable Rents'.

  • Social Rents

  • Affordable Rent

These changes will mean that there may be properties advertised with different rents and with different tenancies available, including both the new (Affordable Rents, Fixed Term Tenancies) and also existing tenancies such as Secure and Assured Lifetime Tenancies, social rent, intermediate rent etc.  Most tenancies will continue to be offered on a lifetime basis but you could be offered any of the following combinations: 


  • Social Rent and Lifetime tenancy

  • Social Rent and Fixed term tenancy

  • Affordable Rent and Lifetime tenancy

  • Affordable Rent and fixed term tenancy

What is an Affordable Rent Tenancy? 

  • An affordable rent is 80% of the market rent (what private sector tenant’s pay). These rents will be lower than private sector rent levels but could be higher than traditional 'social rents'.
  • Tenancies will be offered through the Homefinder Somerset choice based letting scheme.
  • Affordable rent tenancies will be eligible for housing benefits. Although the assessment of housing benefit may not cover the full rent.
  • Affordable rent tenancies may be let for a fixed term or on a lifetime (Secure/Assured) tenancy.
  • Affordable rent tenancies are intended to provide an alternative to social rent tenancies (see below)
  • Local authorities may be able to place people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness into an affordable rent tenancy.


What is a Social Rent Tenancy?

  • Social rent is renting a property that is owned by a local authority or housing association (social landlord).
  • Tenancies will be offered through the Homefinder Somerset choice based letting scheme.
  • A social rent is based on a rent formula set by the Government and is usually less than affordable rent.
  • All social landlords use the same formula for setting social rents although social rents may differ, for historic reasons,  between social landlords
  • A social rent tenancy can be for a lifetime (Secure/Assured) but can also be for a fixed term.


What does the change to Rent Levels mean?

The Government has allowed social housing providers to let SOME of their homes at an "Affordable Rent Level".  This means, compared to a similar property, the rent charged will be less than the amount charged by a private landlord but will be more than a traditional housing association rent (known as a "Social Rent"). From April 2012, all properties advertised on Homefinder Somerset will make clear if a property is being let at an affordable rent. An advert will be marked as Affordable Rent if that rent level applies and you will see this symbol:


Length of Tenancy

Although rent levels will vary, the Localism Act (2011) now allows Councils and Housing Associations to offer two types of tenancies:-

Lifetime Tenancy – Tenants can live in their home for as long as they wish to as long as the terms of the tenancy agreement are maintained.  

Fixed Term Tenancy – This is NOT a lifetime tenancy and will be granted with a much shorter time which will come to an end after the stated date.  All Homefinder Somerset Partners will usually advertise these for a minimum of 5 years or longer but in any case this type of tenancy cannot be granted for less than 2 years.  The individual landlord will decide on the length of a fixed term tenancy which will be made clear on the advertisement and regularly reviewed.

Tenants please be aware - If you currently live in a property that provides you with a secure or assured tenancy (a lifetime tenancy) and you bid for a property at an affordable rent, which is for a fixed term, you could be giving up your rights to a lifetime tenancy.

Any properties advertised on Homefinder Somerset that will have a fixed term tenancy will show the following symbol (where the number represents the length of the fixed term tenancy):


What happens at the end of the Fixed Term Tenancy?

All Homefinder Social Housing Landlords will be responsible for contacting the tenant towards the end of the fixed term tenancy and no later than 6 months before the end of the tenancy period to discuss either renewing the tenancy or other available housing options.