Fairer system for tenants

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RESIDENTS who contribute to society could be bumped up the waiting list for a council house under new plans.

A new tenancy strategy is being drawn up by South Holland District Council which aims to make the system of housing allocation fairer for everyone.

As well as altering the points system to give more weight to people already living in the district, former armed services personnel and those who contribute to their communities, for example by volunteering, the proposals could also see new tenants given just a five-year lease instead of the “lifetime” tenancies currently offered.

It is hoped the shorter leases would make it easier for the council to allocate homes more fairly, by moving a family to a smaller property for example when they no longer require as many bedrooms.

The review process would also help the council deal with bad tenants who have breached the terms of their tenancy or have been convicted of a criminal offence that makes them unsuitable to continue being a tenant.

Coun Christine Lawton, who holds the portfolio for housing landlord, said: “We are not wishing to be draconian but if you have tenants who cause difficulties a short term tenancy would be an advantage.

“Generally, there would be an automatic renewal of these tenancies unless there have been problems and it just seems a sensible way to approach it.

“It is becoming national policy to have shorter term tenancies and we just want what is best for all our tenants. Ninety nine out of 100 tenants are good, but there is always the odd one and when you have long waiting lists of people desperate for a council home, there is a fine line to draw to do what’s fair.”

Current council house tenants would not be affected by the new arrangements, and lifetime tenancies would still be offered to those who have reached retirement age, those suffering terminal illness, former armed forces personnel who saw active service and households where the applicant, their partner or dependent child has a disability.

Single people under 25 could only be given a two-year term to encourage them to take greater responsibility for their own lives by seeking employment or training.

The strategy is expected to be considered by South Holland District Council’s cabinet this summer and full council in the autumn.