Ward Hadaway Speed Read: The risk behind flexible tenancies 

Croydon LBC v Kalonga [2020] EWHC 1353 (QB)Tipples J

A flexible tenancy is a type secure tenancy that can be granted by a local authority to its tenants. They must be granted for a minimum fixed term of two years however, at the end of this term, a mandatory ground for possession arises.

Mrs Kalonga was a flexible tenant of Croydon London Borough Council. Her tenancy began in May 2015 and was granted for a fixed term of 5 years. During her tenancy, Croydon LBC became aware of a number of instances of anti-social behaviour committed by Mrs Kalonga and so sought to regain possession of the property prior to the end of the fixed term. The ground relied on was Ground 2 (Sch 2) of the Housing Act 1985, thus relating to her seemingly poor behaviour and the resultant nuisance caused to others.

This action taken by the landlord was contested by Mrs Kalonga on the basis that a flexible tenancy could only be terminated by forfeiture and that there was no forfeiture clause in her lease.

The claim had been issued in the County Court however, due to the high number of properties in the UK let on a flexible tenancy (around 30,000) and the fact that the majority of council’s did not include a forfeiture clause in such leases, the matter was elevated to the High Court.

The High Court found in Mrs Kalonga’s favour and dismissed the possession claim. It agreed that her tenancy could not be terminated in the absence of a forfeiture clause and so possession could not be sought before the end of the fixed term.

The case tells us that any landlord wanting to regain possession of a flexible tenancy before the end of the fixed term must be in a position to rely on forfeiture clause contained within the terms of the relevant tenancy – even if a tenant demonstrates anti-social behaviour. The absence of such a provision therefore awards a tenant with an exceptionally strong security of tenure during their fixed term. This decision will undoubtedly have negative repercussions for many tenancies in the UK.

In light of the above, local authorities should be fastidious in their inclusion of a forfeiture clause in all new flexible tenancies going forward. In some cases, it may be worthwhile exploring the options surrounding the variation of leases to mitigate future risk and look to regain vital control.

Mediaworks Unveils New Digital Experience for Home Group

Award-winning digital marketing agency, Mediaworks, has completed a year-long project with Home Group, the UK’s leading provider of high-quality housing, health, and social care to deliver a new digital experience.

The project set out to deliver accessible and personalised online content to Home Group’s customer groups, enabling them to quickly find the information they are looking for through online search and complete their transactions online.

At the heart of the project was the redesign and optimisation of their website,  www.homegroup.org.uk. It was developed in close consultation with the housing association’s customer groups to create an improved online experience.

Jo Hamilton, Head of Digital at Home Group, said: “This was a strategically-significant investment for Home Group. The project set out to relaunch our online experience to encourage our stakeholders to adopt our digital channels and prioritise high-volume enquiries so they could easily be found through online search and answered through an intuitive experience.

“Home Group works with various customer types, from tenants, to suppliers, to NHS commissioners. Core to this was reducing the workload of repetitive queries to our support teams so we could allow our people to focus more time on customers who are in greater need of help and support. Mediaworks is a fantastic partner to consult with. Their breadth of expertise and design with data approach allowed us to better guide our customers towards self-serve methods.”

Mediaworks was appointed by Home Group after a competitive tender process early last year. The project started with extensive user research to understand the website’s users, with focus groups conducted with key customer groups across the United Kingdom.

Brett Jacobson, Chief Executive Officer at Mediaworks, said: “It has been fantastic to work with Home Group on this project. They are a progressive organisation that has placed their customers at the heart of everything they do.

“One of the greatest hidden costs faced by many organisations is managing recurring queries. Helping your customers to quickly answer a question by simply typing it into their phone can save an organisation thousands of hours of support time and deliver a fantastic customer experience. When you’re a not-for-profit organisation, freeing up your people’s resource to give them a more dedicated focus to support vulnerable groups is more important than it ever has been.”

Other key features include personalisation tools which deliver user-specific content for visitors to the website dependent on where in the UK they logged on from. Improved navigation was also implemented to provide a more efficient service for both stakeholders and customers.

Mediaworks has continued to deliver digital solutions for the housing sector throughout 2020, partnering with Northern Housing Consortium and acquiring housing clients across the country, including Home Group and Believe Housing.


Northern Housing Consortium – 2020 Election of Directors

The Northern Housing Consortium represents the views of housing organisations in the North of England, with our membership of local and combined authorities, ALMOs and housing associations representing 96% of social housing in the North.  Our vision is to use our collective voice to have unrivalled influence in achieving housing policy that works for the North and provide outstanding services that support our members to create great places to live.

The overall management and strategic direction of the Northern Housing Consortium is entrusted to the Board of Directors who are subject to election each year from Full Member organisations.  Membership of the board is balanced between the three Northern regions and consideration is made of sectoral representation across different organisation types.

Under the Consortium’s governance arrangements, all nominations for the position of Director will be reviewed by the Board (or their nominated representatives), against a Skills Set for Directors to ensure that they meet the Board’s requirement to fill any vacancies – the Skills Set and Board Director Role Profile are enclosed in the Board Director Nomination Pack.

In accordance with a procedure agreed by the Board, we are seeking nominations for a total of two new Director places to be filled for the three-year period 2020-2023.

In addition, there are also four Directors who are retiring this year but who wish to stand for re-election as follows:

  1. Paul Fiddaman, Group Chief Executive, Karbon Homes
  2. Sarah Robson, Newcastle City Council
  3. Karen Lythe, Assistant Director Strategic Housing, Doncaster Council
  4. Tony Reeves, Chief Executive, Liverpool City Council (previously co-opted to fill a casual vacancy on 24th April 2020)

NB The Board have confirmed their support for the re-election of the above candidates.

Should the number of successful nominations exceed the vacancies available, a ballot will be arranged and the results announced for formal approval by the Full Members at the Consortium’s Annual General Meeting on 19th November 2020.

A nomination form is included in the Nomination Pack, and I invite you to consider and make nominations of candidates no later than 1st September 2020.  Please note that you can nominate more than one candidate but in doing so, you should note the conditions for nominating candidates included in the Nomination Pack.

An application form can be obtained from kay.wiseman@northern-consortium.org.uk This must be completed by the nominee and returned with the nomination form no later than 1st September 2020.

If you would like to discuss your nomination for the position of Director, please contact:-

Tracy Harrison

Chief Executive

T: 07809659492

E: tracy.harrison@northern-consortium.org.uk

New for 2020 : Action Learning Sets for Strategic Leaders

Develop your leadership skills, think differently about organisational challenges and come together with strategic leaders from across the sector through action learning.

The Northern Housing Consortium is delighted to be working with Action Learning Associates to run a series of Action Learning Sets for strategic leaders in the sector from September 2020.

Action Learning Sets are a great opportunity for strategic leaders to:

  • talk to peers from other housing organisations in the North and hear different experiences and points of view
  • connect with others at a time when collaboration is geographically difficult
  • explore solutions and plan for the future
  • develop leadership skills

What is action learning?

The Action Learning process, rooted in listening and question making, drives effective decision making and supports you to take new action. You will be kept to the discipline of asking questions to probe and explore challenges in-depth, rather than move into the familiar responses of discussion, advocacy or offering your own solutions. https://youtu.be/-LnC53At97Q

Leaders across the private and public sector have found action learning to be a vital tool.

“Learning from others and their insights has been invaluable.” – A2Dominion Group

The professionally facilitated action learning sets will run from September 2020. Priced at just £600, the sets will comprise of four 2.5hour sessions, delivered virtually over 9 months to small groups of no more than eight participants.

To find out more, or to book a place, contact Susanne Martin at Susanne.Martin@northern-consortium.org.uk



MPs call for social housing to be ‘top of agenda’ for recovery

The influential Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee have called for social housing to be ‘top of the agenda’ for recovery. Their new report Building More Social Housing is the culmination of a year-long Inquiry, which included the NHC appearing before the Committee in October 2019.

The report’s conclusions include that:

  • At least 90,000 net additional social rent homes a year are needed in England and that it is time for Government to invest
  • Government can significantly reduce the expenditure required for these homes by reforming land value capture and use of public land
  • Local authorities should receive 100% of Right to Buy receipts and have longer to spend them

As well as considering the resources required to build the social homes we need, the Committee also considers local government capacity, and concludes that “It is imperative that local planning authorities have the right resources to deliver the social housing this country needs, and to ensure private developers deliver sufficient social housing on new developments.”

Commenting on the report, the NHC’s Brian Robson said:

“It is good to see the Committee recognise the role that new homes can play in social and economic recovery. The report sets out clearly the need for a truly national programme of affordable housing delivery, and also recognises some of the differences in delivery in the North of England, such as the lower value of planning obligations in our regions.”

The NHC continues to ensure that the collective voice of housing in the North reaches and connects with policy shapers by submitting evidence to Select Committee Inquiries, including the BEIS Select Committee’s Inquiry into post-pandemic growth

Brownfield boost for the North’s city regions

The £400m Brownfield Housing Fund has now been largely allocated – and the North’s city regions are big winners.

The Brownfield Housing Fund was announced at the March Budget – with Chancellor Rishi Sunak commenting it would help ambitious Mayoral Combined Authorities and local areas to establish housing on brownfield land across the country”.

On 30th June, the Government announced that £360m of the fund would be allocated directly to seven city regions. Six of the seven city regions concerned are in the North – the remaining one is the West Midlands CA, which already benefited from similar funding as part of its devolution deal. The remaining £40m from the Fund is being held over for a competitive element, open to the same city regions and expected to be concluded quickly.

The NHC hosted MHCLG Housing Delivery Director Cathy Francis and officials from her team on the day after the March budget, touring opportunity sites in the Tees Valley. We submitted a paper to Cathy and her team, urging them to allocate the Brownfield Housing Fund directly to the North, rather than engage in complex and time-consuming bidding processes. 90% of the fund has been allocated in this way – with Combined Authorities able to determine how the investment is used locally, prioritising the housing needs of their local communities.

The NHC understands that allocations to individual CAs are as follows:

Combined Authority Brownfield Housing Fund Allocation
Greater Manchester CA £80m
Liverpool City Region £45m
North of Tyne CA £24m
Sheffield City Region £40m
Tees Valley CA £19m
West Yorkshire CA £67m
Total North of England £276m*
West Midlands CA £84m
Further competitive Fund £40m
Total Brownfield Housing Fund £400m*

*figures don’t total due to rounding

Commenting on the allocations, NHC CEO Tracy Harrison said,

“This is really significant news for the North – both in terms of the Fund’s focus on brownfield land challenges, and the way the Fund has been allocated directly to localities.  We will be exploring with members the potential for further funding of this type, including in parts of the North which don’t currently benefit from Combined Authority arrangements.”

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll has welcomed the allocation to his area:

“The North of Tyne has a wealth of under-utilised, brownfield land that is ripe for development.  This land is often close to existing public transport and other amenities so it makes sense that these sites play a major role in our housing ambitions.

 “These sites will allow us to meet the broad range of housing needs that exist across the North of Tyne and help us to revitalise and sustain our construction sector ensuring that good skilled jobs remain in our area. This funding, and the local decision making powers to ensure the interests of local people are met, is what devolution is all about and I welcome it.”

West Yorkshire Combined Authority secured funding from the fund in advance of their first Metro Mayor Election in 2021.  Calderdale Council Leader, and Deputy Chair of the CA, Cllr Tim Swift, commented:

“The £67 million we have secured to help deliver thousands of homes on brownfield land shows how the West Yorkshire devolution deal we struck in March is already delivering for our communities. 

 “Thanks to the devolution deal and our track record of delivery we did not have to bid for this funding. We have been allocated funding on the same basis as areas which already have elected mayors, ensuring we can put this money to work as quickly as possible to unlock development sites.  

“Creating well-connected neighbourhoods delivering urgently needed affordable homes is central to our drive to create an economy that works for all our communities.” 

For more information on the NHC’s policy and public affairs work, contact Brian Robson at brian.robson@northern-consortium.org.uk




Net Zero and New Homes: Housing’s role in the North’s recovery

On Wednesday 8th July, Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented his Summer Economic Update – the second stage in the Government’s economic response to Coronavirus. At the NHC, we urged the Chancellor to take the opportunity to place net zero and new homes at the heart of the North’s recovery.

The Chancellor has previously warned that we face a ‘severe recession, the likes of which we have not seen.’ Forecasts suggest that the effects of this recession will be most strongly felt in the North, setting back efforts to level-up.

Just as housing organisations across the North have played an important role in the immediate response to Covid-19, we’re keen to play our part in the North’s economic and social recovery.

Following consultation with our members, we urged the Chancellor to use the Summer Economic Update to provide an economic stimulus which would also deliver on Government’s existing priorities on levelling-up, net zero and new homes. Our Net Zero and New Homes paper to Government set out how Rishi Sunak could do this.

Advancing towards net zero by investing in the North’s existing homes

A quarter of the North’s carbon emissions come from our existing homes. Retrofitting these homes will be necessary to deliver on net zero, and in the social sector there is a readily available delivery mechanism. Improving the North’s homes even at a steady rate could create 20,000 jobs at pace, providing a direct and positive impact on local supply chains. It will put money back in people’s pockets through energy bill savings, and reduce pressure on the NHS.

To create this net zero stimulus, we recommended that Government:
• Confirm their 2019 manifesto commitments to a Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and Home Upgrade Grants
• Bring forward the £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund with immediate effect, enabling councils and housing associations to invest at scale and pace

New homes to meet the needs of a levelled-up region

The North needs a housing offer to meet the needs of its current and future population – around 50,000 new homes every year. Building new affordable homes, and readying sites for future housing growth of all tenures will provide an immediate, tried-and-tested boost to the Northern economy. It will contribute to Government’s ambition to boost housing supply across the country.

To create this new home stimulus, we recommended that Government:
• Immediately open the £12bn Affordable Homes Programme announced at Budget 2020, with flexibilities on tenure and delivery
• Bring forward the Single Housing Infrastructure Fund announced at Budget 2020, opening the whole fund to the whole country.

The North’s housing sector already supports over 100,000 jobs and over £10bn of economic activity. We’re rooted in communities and keen to work with Government to make the North an even greater place to live.

There was some positive news from the Summer Update – with £2bn allocated to Green Home Grants in the private sector; and a £50m net zero pilot for the social housing sector. However, we think the Chancellor missed the chance to deliver at scale and pace, by opening up the £3.8bn Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. That’s what the NHC will be focusing on as attention turns to the third phase of the Government’s economic response : this Autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Our Summer Economic Update on-the-day briefing is still available to read online. Sign-up to receive our on-the-day briefings by emailing karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk

#OurNorth Net Zero Webinar Programme announced

On the 13th July the Northern Housing Consortium launched #OurNorth – Net Zero at a Webinar where we were joined speakers representing the United Nations, devolved Combined Authorities, and of course the NHC membership. Here, we outlined our commitment to achieving Net-Zero as a core policy objective.  Our long-term aim is to ensure that homes and lives across the North are improved through the decarbonisation of the North’s existing housing. Over the rest of 2020, we are looking to deliver on two outcomes through #OurNorth – Net Zero. We want NHC members to feel connected and informed and we want to contribute to securing the policy and resources you need to decarbonise homes in your communities.

To achieve that first aim – to build the confidence and knowledge the social housing sector needs to lead on making decarbonisation a reality across northern England – we are committing our engagement programme to bringing members together with expert speakers, and each other, to answer questions, share learning, and make taking action less daunting.

On November 3rd, we’ll hold our flagship Northern Housing Summit online for the first time. Our headline speaker is Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change. In the run-up to the Summit, we’re running a series of webinars on aspects of the Net Zero challenge – enabling members to connect with each other and hear from key stakeholders. We will look to create a safe place to discuss the challenge of Net-Zero with peers from other organisations.

All events will take place online via Zoom and are free for NHC members, announced so far:


Climate Emergencies – Ambition, Policy, Action

Wednesday 9th September 2020 – 13.00 – 14.30

Over 60 of the North’s Local Authorities have declared climate emergencies. At the same time, the region’s Housing Associations are also beginning to develop their own bold climate plans. As we all know, the challenge now is to turn this vital wave of ambition into clear local strategies.

At our inaugural session of the #OurNorth – Net Zero webinar series we’ll be joined by key speakers from inside and outside the social housing sector to discuss the practical ways Local Authorities and Housing Associations are transitioning from ambition to action – building on the strengths of local assets and centring communities to ensure climate resilience.

For more information and to book your place click here:



Understanding Your Stock – Asset Management & Energy Efficiency

Wednesday 16th September 2020, 10.00 – 11.30

Achieving Net Zero has made housing organisations think about their homes, and their Asset Management Strategies, in new ways. We all understand the implications of doing nothing, but the desire to ‘get it right first time’ weighs heavily on our minds.

This session will hear from those working directly with the asset management implications of energy efficiency. Attendees will hear about how to develop and implement a net-zero orientated strategy, to the technical considerations of refurbishment.

For more information and to book your place click here:



Financing Energy Efficiency

23rd September 2020, 13.00 – 14.30

Developing new net-zero housing as well as making the investments required to deliver decarbonisation in existing homes will require a mixture of public and private finance.

To do so, the social housing sector is beginning to look more closely at demonstrating their environmental credentials to growing investor interest.

Financing Energy Efficiency will look closely at the sector’s increasing interest in ESG Reporting – effectively highlighting and reporting strong performance around Environmental, Social and Governance measures that aligns with, and attracts, private finance increasingly looking to support ‘positive impact’ investments.

For more information and to book your place click here:



A full programme of events is being developed and will be announced soon – as part of the webinar series we will be looking closely at:

  • Implementing retrofit, from fabric first to home energy systems
  • Eco-living – the importance of green spaces and biodiversity
  • Decarbonising Rural Areas
  • Getting communities onboard with Net-Zero – education and engagement with residents

We want to hear from our members and discuss your thoughts and suggestions on the topics and speakers you think NHC members would benefit hearing from, or to hear about the good practice already taking place in your organisation.

Please contact Liam Gregson, Member Engagement Manager – liam.gregson@nhc.org.uk