Freedom of Information Request

Social rent voids

Received: 30 July 2019

1. The numbers of social rent voids sold 'to market' (at market prices to private buyers) by housing associations (HAs) in your area. Ideally from 2011/12 (when sales were encouraged by government/GLA policy) to 2018/19 or the latest (financial/calendar) year when records are available.
a. Total sales by HA/provider, by year if available, or if not, a total by provider for the period where information is available.
b. If known - whether HA's committed to replace voids sold to market in your borough. If they did, how many and what tenures/rent levels?
(My assumption is that associations don't formally commit to replace as regulations don't require this and they are likely to be delivering some new 'low cost' rent ' social or affordable ' in new build schemes. But some may have given voluntary commitments to replace. If they did figures would be useful, and whether replacements were to be at existing social rent formula, maximum 'target' social rent, 'affordable' rent, or more recently, London Affordable Rent).
Note: this refers to sales of void social rent homes at market prices to private buyers, NOT to sales/transfers of social rent homes (void or tenanted) from one provider to another at Existing Use Value as part of stock rationalisations where homes remain at social rent units.
c. Whether the council objected to disposals on the open market.
i) If officers did to how many
ii) By which HAs/providers?
Explanation: regulations required HAs to get permission from the Regulator of Social Housing/Homes & Communities Agency (now Homes England) before selling any social rent voids to market. As part of this they had to consult Local Authorities, to seek their views. Councils couldn't stop sales. Only the MHCLG could. But councils did have to be consulted and may have objected to some sales.
Regulations changed from April 2017 when Housing Associations/Private Registered Providers were de-regulated. From then they no longer required permission from Regulator of Social Housing/ Homes England for disposals of social rent voids to market. But they still have to notify the Regulator.
This information is NOT currently available from the MHCLG. Their Statistical Data Returns (SDRs) record sales of social rent voids - for 'non-social use' or to 'open-market' or 'other' - by provider/year, but currently they don't publish local authority areas where the homes were sold. I am asking them for this information separately but they may not supply it, and councils should have some information too ' at least from 2011/17 when regulations required HAs to consult them before disposals. The number of social rent voids sold to market by different providers varies considerably so boroughs must have been affected more than others in terms of net stock.
e. Can you briefly explain whether HAs are still required to consult the borough before sales, or notify the borough of sales, or not. (My assumption is that councils have not been consulted from April 2017 but they may still be notified. Anything on this would be appreciated). f. If recorded, it would also be helpful to get figures for NEW BUILD social rent and affordable rent homes in your borough, by housing association for the same period; totals for their own schemes and acquisitions from developers after Section 106 agreements. (This must often involve large numbers. If information is recorded it would help. If it would take too much time to collate, leave it out).
2. The numbers of social rent voids sold to market by your council/ALMO (If relevant. Bexley, Bromley, Merton and Richmond transferred all of most of their council housing to housing associations)a. Number sold by year, from 2011/12 to 2018/19 or the latest (financial) year when records are availabl

Outcome / Documents

  • Response (all information to be supplied) - application/pdf - Download

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