Consistent with the provisions in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is considered to be a social housing support and consequently households in receipt of a payment under the scheme are not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list. However, acknowledging that some households on the waiting list, who avail of HAP, have expectations that they would receive a more traditional form of social housing support, Ministerial directions have issued to ensure that, should they so choose, HAP recipients can avail of a move to other forms of social housing support through a transfer list. Furthermore, local authorities were also directed that HAP recipients who apply to go on the transfer list should get full credit for the time they spent on the waiting list and be placed on the transfer list with no less favourable terms than if they had remained on the waiting list.
The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 gives legislative recognition to rental accommodation availability agreements, which underpin the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), as a form of social housing support. Consequently, since 1 April 2011, RAS tenants are now considered to be in receipt of social housing support and should not generally remain on main housing waiting lists for new applicants for social housing.Recognising that tenants housed through RAS prior to this change might have had reasonable expectations in regard to retaining access to traditional local authority rented accommodation, guidance issued from the Housing Agency in 2011 recommended that there should be a special transfer pathway for pre-2011 RAS tenants to other forms of social housing support. The arrangement effectively allowed these households to be designated as a ‘transfer’ applicant and to maintain their position for allocation as they had on the main waiting list.
All tenants allocated RAS accommodation post 1 April 2011 (and thus under the provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009) were informed at the time of offer and allocation that because RAS is now a social housing support, their housing need is met and that they will no longer remain on the main social housing waiting list. However, it is recommended that allocation schemes also provide a ‘transfer pathway’ for new RAS tenants, whereby households in RAS have access to the transfer list in the same way as tenants in local authority accommodation.
Where a vacant property arises, it is a matter for individual housing authorities, in accordance with their allocation schemes, to determine whether the allocation is made to a household on the main waiting list, or to a transfer applicant, such as a household from RAS, and the method of such allocation. It is open to housing authorities to specify in their allocation schemes the proportion of allocations which will be reserved for transfers, and within this, how many may be reserved for households seeking transfers to other forms of social housing support.
The oversight and management of housing waiting lists, including the allocation and transfer of tenancies, is a matter for the relevant local authority in accordance with the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, and associated regulations.Section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, requires all local authorities, as a reserved function, to make an allocation scheme determining the order of priority to be accorded in the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support and to households approved for a transfer, the allocation of which would, in the opinion of the authority, meet the accommodation needs and requirements of the households.