As the new Government looks set to make changes to the property industry, housing associations should be aware and understand all of the policies and regulations.
The sector will be keen to influence the Right to Buy plan, which will see housing association tenants given the opportunity to buy their homes. This policy may even be campaigned against.
Association board members or senior executives should be aware of the potential impacts on business. Ask yourself how many tenants will use the discounts? What will the cost of replacing the homes be? What effect will it have on funds? How will it influence your future investments?
Alongside Right to Buy is the welfare reform set to cause problems for many on benefits. It is believed that £12 billion will be cut and the cap will be reduced from £26,000 per year to £23,000. Automatic housing benefit entitlement for 18-21-year-olds will also be removed. This will dramatically affect tenancy support and income.
A Devolution Bill will aim to create a northern powerhouse, giving more power to big cities. London already has a separate investment identity and could seek more power.
For associations with strong connections to local authority partners, this regional revival could be beneficial. But for associations working in the Midlands, especially rural parts, being overlooked is likely, as politicians focus on the North and South.
In Scotland, Wales and Ireland, further devolved powers will affect associations who work across borders.
Right to Build and the new starter homes scheme aim to provide an extra 200,000 homes at a discount of 20% to first time buyers under 40. This will reduce affordable homes schemes that are offered through the planning system.
For those dependent on section 106 planning agreements, new approaches will be needed for delivering affordable housing.
Funding new developments is also an area that needs consideration, as the cut to public sector resources will not return to previous levels of public subsidy. Associations should prepare for a lack of Government grants.
Associations must also ask who they can home. Will properties only be given to those who can afford them without huge amounts of benefits? Immigration is also an area of concern.
Housing associations now have the task of answering these questions and understanding the changes that will inevitably affect their practice.